I’ll be forthcoming and say that this is late. You know that. I know that. I actually had plans to do an interview with Chase following X Games, but I was overworked, had some other Ride obligations, got a bit sick, and then when it came down it, I was burnt out and needed a few days off. I was planning on leaving it well enough alone, but I checked my FB inbox yesterday and found a week old message from Patricio Rubio with an interesting breakdown of the finals. Patricio is a long time rider, full-time architect, part-time BMX company owner, and all around good dude from Mexico City. And he, like many other people, felt that the inherent confusion and odd backlash about Chase’s victory a bit unsettling. So he approached the finals matter-of-factly and came up with this:
“I know Chase doesn’t need anyone to support his riding, but I have never heard such ‘evil’ division among BMXers about a contest. Anyhow, if you think it is helpful, you can publish it, but I think it is also good for the sport! The judges did a hell of a job! I was also a judge at this year Dirt Conquers and that experience got me thinking about a better way to evaluate all the riders. The problem is not so much with the first places, but the ones below—that is so difficult!
But this time with Chase, was crazy! I had never seen such divided opinion on the world about a contest, and so harsh as well. BMX is a complex sport, and I think this helps understand it a little better. At the beginning, I also thought his run was not worth the first place, but then I read what you posted about the comp being bowl-oriented riding style, saw the videos again and got me thinking…. So, I came up with this idea to take on account only two things: position in the bowl and tricks of each run. And the results are on the diagrams and list of tricks! For me, on my personal opinion, the judges where damn right! Chase won fairly! Style was not even taken on account; there was no need! And it makes it less subjective. Even Achim asked me to do a study of Gary Young’s run after looking at my study (which I am also sending you), and again, Chase’s run was still, for me, the best of the comp!” —Patricio Rubio
When discussing the results shortly after, I had two gripes about judging and none of them were with the fact that Chase took the win. For the sake of saying it, I felt Peraza should have made finals instead of Dhers and I felt that Gary's runs should have been scored higher. But the underlying fact is that Chase won that fucking contest. He dropped in, carried his speed through the end of the 50 seconds, roasted every transfer, landed smoothly, floated a couple of three variations, and made it all look damn good.
The problem that people can't get past are the words "X Games." After all, this is the event that built a box jump to Mirra's specifications so he could do a double flip [Edit: I’ve been told this is inaccurate. X Games copied the box in North Carolina that Dave did the double flip on, but not at his request]. The event that perpetuated the word extreme alongside screaming fans, TV time, corporate sponsors, and whips and flips. Well, apparently that changed—there was no park event this year. And looking from the outside in, that's probably really confusing for the average kid looking at Sandoval doing front flip flairs versus Chase's one-foot table.
But the fact is that the judges laid out well beforehand that they were looking for an overall impression. Lines in the bowl, speed, style, height, and tricks. The only recent event to parallel this would be the Vans US Open bowl contest, where I vividly remember the crowd booing Andy Buckworth's score after he did a double flip. They just didn't understand how it worked. Not so ironically, Daniel Sandoval came in first there with Chase in third.
Looking at Patricio's charts (which I admit are a bit crude and the course somehow looks like a portion of the female reproduction system), the important part to take in is the overall shape of the red lines. The back and forth nature of Daniel's runs were described to me negatively by a judge after the event as using the deep section as a half pipe only to go up to the top portion and do the same. Drew and Gary's runs have the same sort of feel, while Chase's reflect a circular motion (bowl, remember) and I'd be willing to bet that there's more "red line" on his chart, too.
And just to state facts:
– I was told by a judge that if Drew had pulled the fufanu in his second run that he would have had the highest score of the day, at least on his score sheet.
– I didn't talk to Sandoval after the event, but Drew was elated to have gotten second…not bummed he didn't get first.
– A lot of the nuances of Chase's riding didn't come through if you weren't there. The common deep-to-shallow transfer was done absolutely perfect—better than anyone else—by Chase.
Don't hate the player, hate the game. Point your finger at X Games for inviting the Kyle Baldock-type riders to an event where their riding wouldn't be appreciated. But to look at the results and complain about Chase, who took the course and put everything he had into it, and churned out 50 seconds of what BMX should like…that's wrong, ya'll. We’re better than that.
Chase Hawk’s Winning Run:
Drew Bezanson’s Second Place Run:
Daniel Sandoval’s Third Place Run: