Las Vegas¿this place will kill you if you let it. If you’re under 21, there’s not a whole lot you can do in Vegas, but for those over 21, the gambling, booze, and women are guaranteed to get you in trouble. MTV picked Vegas for its third annual Sports & Music Festival, and it was a completely different scene than last year. The event wasn’t open to the public, and the audience was bussed in every day to stand in the background and cheer on demand. The bands played inside a club at the Hard Rock Hotel, and the audience jumped up and down like the best of them. Vert was held on an 18-foot-tall ramp on top of the Hard Rock’s parking garage, and dirt was held in T.J. Lavin’s new backyard. To put it simply, this was not your typical contest.
MTV’s vert ramp was out of hand. This things was 18-feet-tall, had 30′ roll-ins, and just standing on the deck made you nervous. Representatives from the Guinness Book of World Records were on hand, so whoever went the highest was getting the World Record. The night before the contest, Pro skater Danny Way jumped out of helicopter into the ramp, but none of the bikers got to do anything with the helicopter (even though John Parker was talking about ninja dropping out of it).
The first time I saw anyone ride the ramp, I thought the skaters were going the highest, but that changed when the bike contest started. Jason Davies and Simon Tabron were going pretty high, but Pat Miller, John Parker, and Kevin Robinson were seriously blasting. They would pump down the roll-in and their first air would be around 14 feet. Sometimes they would keep going for a few airs, but it was impossible to pump and maintain that height with such big transitions. Kevin ended up going the highest, and set the World Record at 15’3″.
For the Sick Trick part of the contest, I was hoping someone would roll in and do a 13-foot 540, but the riders were doing two airs before trying anything, which meant they weren’t very high. Miller went for an under-coping 900. Davies spun a good 540. Simon tried about six 900s, but never completely rode away any of them. John Parker kept going for double-tailwhips but he couldn’t make it happen. Kevin Robinson pulled a seven-foot 540, and then started trying to pull a flair. I kept yelling for Kevin to try one on his first air after the roll-in, but his wife kept telling me to shut up.
The riders were supposed to pick a winner when the contest was over, but they backed out, and asked a few of us to decide who won. We figured that the guy who pulled the biggest trick should win, so Kevin’s 540 won the title, making him the two-time vert winner, and $6,000 richer.
I’ll tell you what, if I just bought a really nice house, the last thing I would do is invite an MTV audience over, but that’s what T.J. Lavin did. On the day of the contest, his backyard was out of control. MTV filmed a couple of its other shows in T.J.’s backyard, so it was packed with riders, TV stars, and kids screaming right on cue.
The actual contest was mainly a hard trick jam. Matt Beringer front-flipped the big set, and then tried an out-of-control backflip over the hip. Beringer also tried a 360-front-flip over the big set, and even though he didn’t pull it, it got him plenty of air time on TV. Brian Foster did an awesome 360-lookdown to no-footer. Fuzzy Hall 360’d the first set and then tried to 720 the next set, but he never pulled the 720. T.J. pulled all of his big stuff, including a perfect 360-tailwhip, and had every little girl in Vegas screaming his name.
Then there was “Nasty.” When Cory Nastazio went up for his last jump, everyone knew he was going to try a double-backflip. This is the kind of trick that can seriously kill you, and Cory has been walking away from some burly slams trying it all year long. This time he got around pretty well, but was a little low on the landing causing him to go down hard. Everyone cringed when he hit the ground, but he jumped up as psyched as ever. I seriously think he would have pulled it with another try, but his bike was too wrecked to go on. Reuel Erickson was in the crowd and decided to go for a double-flip after the comp, but he ended up landing on his head half-way through flip number two. Nothing fazes Reuel, though, and he still pulled a 720 before everything was done.
When the contest ended, none of the jumpers wanted to pick a winner, so they put all of their names in a hat and pulled out the winner¿Matt Beringer. Beringer almost missed the contest because his shoulder was wrecked, so he was stoked. They gave Beringer the trophy, a bunch of people screamed, and then everyone got out of T.J.’s backyard. Like I said, not your typical contest…
Let me start this with a quick note to the riders in MTV’s high-air contest: This is not a dis. Going 15-feet out of an 18-foot tall ramp is incredible, and I’m not taking anything away for you. But, for all you new-school riders out there, I think you need a little history.
Back in 1992, Matt Hoffman decided he couldn’t go high enough on a regular ramp, so he, and the Hoffman Bikes crew, built a 21-foot tall halfpipe behind their warehouse in Oklahoma City. Matt figured that if you built a ramp twice as tall as a regular ramp, you should be able to go twice as high. He rigged a weed-eater motor onto his bike to get speed, and then proceeded to blast unbelievable 18-foot airs. The motor made the bike completely unstable, though, so Matt scrapped the motor and halfpipe idea, and built a 21-foot tall quarterpipe instead. This is when things really got wild, because to get enough speed to hit the quarter, he had to hold onto a rope behind a motorcycle going 55mph down a shady wooden runway. By the fourth day riding the quarter, Matt was getting 26-feet out.
Matt had big plans for the 21′ ramp, but while he was out of town at the end of ’95, a windstorm hit Oklahoma and turned the ramp into a big pile of scrap wood.
So anyway, that’s just a little history to let you know where all this big ramp/big air thing started. And by the way, Tony Hawk pulling the 900 at the X Games and at this contest? That was pretty dope, but just so you know, Matt pulled the first 900 over ten years ago in 1989. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Questions With No Answers
o Why wasn’t Shaun Butler invited for dirt? Butler won the contest last year, but this year he had to sit by and watch. I don’t know who put the invite list together, but I think they made a mistake.
o Where was the street contest? I know this is MTV’s event and they can do whatever they want, but their street contest is always rad, and I was pretty surprised they decided to skip it.
o How bad did the Sick-Trick contest look on TV? Don’t get me wrong, trying to tricks on an 18-foot ramp is pretty serious, but when you’re doing tricks three feet above coping, it doesn’t look that impressive on TV.
o How unbelievable was Mike Aitken riding in practice before the dirt contest? It would have been pretty rad if he could have been in the jam.
o Which vert rider lost so much money in the casinos that his wife had to hide his wallet?