The Friday Interview – X Games & Dew Tour Answer The Questions: What About Dirt Jumping & Flatland?

The Friday Interview – X Games & Dew Tour Answer The Questions: What About Dirt Jumping & Flatland?
Interviews by Fat Tony.

Over the past few years riders all around the world have voiced their opinions on the comments on this site, on Facebook and Twitter, and through countless petitions about how they feel about X Games not including dirt jumping, and X Games and Dew Tour not including flatland in their event lineups. We went straight to the sources and got both X Games and Dew Tour to answer some questions about the subject…Both say they are open to feedback, so please leave some thought out comments on this article so they can see what you guys have to say.

An Interview With X Games

Name: Tim Reed
Title/Position: Sr. Director Content Strategy
Years Working For X Games: Started X Games 3, 1997

Can you give us a brief history lesson of BMX at X Games?
1995 – BMX Dirt, Vert included in original eXtreme Games
1996 – Park added
1997 – Flatland added
1998 – Vert Doubles added
1999 – Vert Doubles eliminated
2001 – Downhill BMX added
2004 – Downhill BMX, Flatland eliminated
2006 – BMX Big added, Vert Best Trick added
2007 – Vert Best Trick eliminated, BMX Dirt eliminated
2008 – BMX Street added

flatland-contest-venues

A look at how X Games used to present flatland to the masses versus how modern-day flatland contests are presenting flatland to the fans.

What roll does BMX play at X Games? Where does it fit into the big picture of the event?
BMX plays a large role. It is one of four sports included at X Games 17, and one of two sports that has been part of X Games since 1995. The others are Moto X, Skateboard, and Rally. Within BMX we have 4 disciplines—Street, Park, Vert and Big Air.

Who has been the “voice” for BMX riders with ESPN and X Games over the years?
The X Games have worked with HSA (Hoffman Sports Association) since 1995 and they've been our main conduit to the BMX community.

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An overview of the 2006 X Games Dirt course—the last year Dirt was included at X Games.

Generally speaking, why have certain BMX events been added and dropped from X Games over the years?
Generally speaking we add and drop sports in order to align the X Games with the sports and disciplines that our fans want to see live at the venue and on TV, as well as reflect the current state of action sports. Like any organization we also have to work within available resources to produce the event.

More specifically, why was flatland riding taken out of the X Games in 2004?
X Games had seven successful years of BMX Flatland. Our evaluation of sports in the X Games include a sport’s progression, growth and infrastructure, as well as a review of viewership, spectator, demographic, and psychographic as they pertain to that sport. Results of those factors led ESPN to the decision of not including Flatland anymore at X Games.

An example of flatland in X Games from 2000.

An example of flatland on MTV Japan in 2007.

…And why was dirt jumping taken out of the X Games in 2007?
It was a function of us needing to do new things with the event, and when we add new elements, unfortunately things have to be eliminated at times. The diligence we did lead to us dropping dirt. Ultimately fan interest and our ability to build a dirt course that would be cutting edge at that time was not possible.

Can you explain some of the process that goes on when X Games decides to add new events or remove existing events?
The process is an on going exercise to make sure that we are delivering the best event we can to the fans both at the venue and on TV. We continually evaluate the sports and disciplines. In addition to making sure that the current events are in line with what our fans want, we always keep an eye on the progression within action sports. If a new sport or discipline potentially makes sense we'll do the necessary diligence to make sure that it will work at X Games and represents the true state of that sport within the industry as a whole—ESPN communicates with the athletes, the industry, and the builders to make sure we can deliver. When we drop disciplines it is due to a variety of reasons such as limited participation, limited progression in the sport or an inability to create the proper venue for the athletes to perform. Again, this is part of the evolution, and if we want to add new events, the reality is we have a finite amount of programming time and unfortunately events need to be eliminated at times.

Ryan Nyquist winning a silver medal in X Games 12 at the Dirt Jumping event.

We see more motorsports getting into the competition line up at X Games…can you explain the current direction of X Games as a whole in regards to what kind of events they include?
We added Freestyle Moto X in 1999, so it has been a big part of the X Games for more than 10 years now and Rally will have its fifth year at X Games 17. We've also recently added BMX Street, Skate Park, and Real Street to name a few. So, although motorsports are important, BMX and Skate remain a major part of the event. Ultimately, the mix of all these sports allows X Games to be a very unique event to our fans. Nowhere else can you see the blend of all these sports at one event and we want to continue that.

I’m sure people at X Games have heard (or seen/read) the BMX community over the years asking about bringing flatland and dirt jumping back…What is the internal reaction at the organization to these requests, begs, and pleads?
The X Games organization is a big fan of both Flatland and Dirt Jumping. We feel we helped grow awareness for those disciplines when they were part of the X Games and unfortunately we had to make the tough choice to eliminate those events. Once a sport is dropped, it does not mean it will never return to X Games. As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that would need to align to bring a sport back.

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Corey Bohan won a gold medal at the last three X Games Dirt Jumping events, and even though he is still competing in the Park contests these days, he would definitely love to see Dirt brought back into the X Games lineup. Photo by Fat.

How much do petitions and letters to the organization effect what you X Games decides to do with the events?
It's always good to hear and be reminded, so I would keep them coming. And ESPN has always made the athletes and our communication with them a priority, so we welcome feedback.

Is there anything the BMX community could do at this point to have X Games consider bringing back flatland and dirt jumpings?
Keep the sports progressing and keep kids participating, and if the right opportunity presents itself, it may make sense to include those disciplines, but for X Games 17 we are looking forward to showcasing Park, Street, Vert and Big Air.

(Click page 2 of this article to read an interview with Chris Prybylo from Dew Tour.)

An Interview With Dew Tour

Name: Chris Prybylo
Title/Position: General Manager of Dew Tour, VP of Events for Alli Sports
Years Working For Dew Tour: 7

Can you give us a brief history lesson of BMX at Dew Tour?
The Dew Tour has embraced the BMX athletes and community since it started seven years ago. Park, Dirt and Vert have proven to be successful elements over the years, receiving all the spectator and media broadcast exposure that comes with the Dew Tour. We've seen progression of tricks, as well as athletes who have succeeded across multiple disciplines, rising stars come up through the Tour, and legendary riders dominate year after year. This year we're bringing in even more of the athlete voice, with some of the top riders contributing to our course designs and overall direction of the program.

Who has been the “voice” for BMX riders with Dew Tour over the years?
Having been around for seven years with multiple stops per season, the Dew Tour and the athletes engage in constant dialogue. Our doors are always open, leading to a lot of conversations, and numerous athlete meetings where we ask questions and listen to the riders.

Through experience and conversations with the athletes, we've altered formats and judging criteria to better suit the riders, judges, spectators, and broadcasts. Over the years, this has brought ongoing improvement for the events, but never fundamentally changed the BMX events.

Dennis McCoy has been our Sport Organizer for BMX, working directly with Alli and the athletes on event formats, scheduling, course design, and on-site production.

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BMX event organizer Dennis McCoy helps coordinate all the BMX events at Dew Tour and competes in Vert as well. Photo by Fat.

Why and how are special events like the street contest (Chicago, 2009) and the dirt best trick contest (Orlando, 2009) added to Dew Tour’s line up?
The Dew Tour is always looking to provide new and exciting live events and television content for our fans. We use a variety of areas to evaluate the potential success of a new discipline including athlete support, overall sport development, and mainstream familiarity.

dew-tour-best-trick

A look at the Dirt Best Trick event that was introduced at the 2009 Orlando Dew Tour. Photo by Fat.

How familiar is Dew Tour with the current international flatland scene?
While we wouldn't claim to be the know-all on BMX flatland, we strive to stay on top the industry as a whole, and major movements within the sport. The athletes and our sport organizers are always incredible resources for us.

What are Dew Tour’s thoughts on flatland, and how does the organization see flatland fitting into BMX as a whole?
Flatland is an interesting and incredibly creative branch of BMX, which we hope will continue to push the limits and progress the sport.

Why has Dew Tour decided to exclude that discipline of freestyle BMX from their events, but include all others?
The dominant disciplines of BMX have proven to be Park, Dirt and Vert. The Dew Tour has developed strong live competitions that appeal to our fans, while translating into action-packed television broadcasts. The Dew Tour is constantly examining the development of Flatland and where it stands as it relates to athlete support, mainstream familiarity, and the growth and direction of the sport.

I know people at Dew Tour have heard (or seen/read) the BMX community over the years asking about bringing flatland into the line up…What are the internal reactions at the organization to that?
We always want to hear from the athletes and the greater BMX community. We will continue to examine the sport as it develops and grows, and look at how it may fit into the Dew Tour at a future point in time.

circle-of-balance-flatland

Riders all around the world are anxiously waiting for one of the big U.S. events to put on a flatland contest on the level of the Red Bull Circle Of Balance that took place in Tokyo in 2007. Photo by Fat.

Is there anything the BMX community could do at this point to have Dew Tour consider adding flatland to the roster?
There's no one item that would bring BMX flatland into the Dew Tour, but we hope the sport will continue its upward growth by fostering star athletes and improving its fan base and mainstream recognition. The Dew Tour is the preeminent contest series for BMX with unmatched exposure opportunities for the athletes and industry. We're excited to kick off this Dew Tour season in Ocean City, MD July 21-24 and continue the momentum.

(Click page 1 of this article to read an interview with Tim Reed from X Games.)

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