The Friday Interview – Chad Kagy Talks Nitro Circus
Interview by Fat Tony.
Photos provided by Nitro Circus and Chad Kagy.
Tomorrow night the Nitro Circus Live show makes it’s U.S. debut at the MGM casino in Las Vegas after several successful tours around Australia and New Zealand over the past few years. We caught up with one of the shows’ riders Chad Kagy to learn a little more about what it’s like to be a part of such a wild spectacle, and as always, Chad had plenty of good insight for us.
Name: Chad Kagy
Location: State College, PA
Sponsors: Alpinestars, Arma, Kicker, Real Water, Albe’s, Ogio, Woodward
For those who aren’t familiar with it, can you explain briefly what the Nitro Circus liveshow is?
The Nitro Circus Live show is a combination of the Nitro TV show cast members, athletes from BMX, skate, FMX, and a few misfits that do a bit of everything like jump a 50-foot gap on a tricycle or in a cooler. It’s fairly organized chaos, but not completely organized, and everyone is having a good time trying to make every show just a little different.
Ok, so now that we know what it is, describe more in detail what someone would see or experience if they went to the show...
As the show progresses the tricks get crazier and more difficult, but you will see tricks from BMXers and FMXers that have won the X Games in the past. The sisters send themselves pretty good, but landing on the resi is a bit difficult for them. Backflips on trikes, roller skis, boogi boards, and jumping 50 feet in a cooler is just nuts. There is pyrotechnics, hot chicks dancing, and sometimes a few people in an off road kart jumping the shorter moto gap.
Who are all the BMX riders that do the show?
The BMX crew is myself, Andy Buckworth, Jai Toohey, Matt Whyatt, Andrew Ahumada, and the newest BMX Nitro member is James Foster.
How did you get involved with it? Did you do the shows when the tour was in Australia, or are you just joining it now for its debut in the U.S.?
I’ve been friends with Travis Pastrana and the Nitro crew for a while and have filmed with them while doing the TV show in the past. Travis asked if I would like to be part of the first live tour in Australia last year and after telling me about it I was instantly on board. I’m excited the Nitro Live tour is expanding to the U.S. and then back to Australia for early 2012 with a full U.S. & European tour to follow that as well.
What kind of practice or preparation is involved with the show? Is everything full planned out and rehearsed?
There are scheduled practice days prior to the show and a show format to work with as far as how many tricks each of us does in each BMX section. As with any show the tricks get more difficult as the show progresses, so we lay out the tricks we want to do and fit them into the timing of the show. It’s planned, but in the end it’s still freestyle so things change depending on how we’re feeling that night. Usually once a trick gets pulled we push for the next trick to make the show better and to learn new stuff for ourselves. For me and Andy this tour has been great practice for the X Games.
How does riding the ramp that Nitro Circus uses compare to riding the Mega Ramp at X Games?
The two ramps are quite a bit different outside of them both being really big jumps. The transitions of the take off ramps are different, Nitro has a steeper angle to give you more pop to go higher. The Nitro landing is resi as well...we have to make it through five weeks of crazy shows, so that’s a little safety measure for longevity of the show. Resi hurts to fall on when you jump 50 feet to the landing, so it’s still not a fun crash. The Nitro ramps are different distances to jump and adjustable through the show and there is obviously no quarterpipe at the end.
Since very few people have actually ridden ramps that huge, tell us what it’s like jumping something like that and how that compares to say jumping a regular five or six-foot box jump...
I like to jump these big gaps and have fun in the air that long, but the first few times jumping something this size was nerve-racking. Now I have fun going fast and high on the Nitro and Mega Ramp. The big side on the Nitro ramps and either of the Mega Ramp distances have such mellow take offs that 360’s are really hard to do, but flips are easy. A 360 on a five-foot tall box feels nothing like a 360 on a Mega Ramp...totally different spins for me. I’ve always felt the hardest thing for me was to jump the mega ramp without doing a trick, I always dead sailor and nose dive real bad.
I’ve heard the argument within the BMX community that events like Mega Ramp aren’t really helping the sport grow because it’s not relatable and stuff...What’s your take on that? Do you think these huge ass ramp contests and demos are a good thing for BMX?
I’m tired of other people telling me and the rest of the world what BMX is and isn’t. It’s freestyle because you’re free to have any style you want. The other people that try to dictate what BMX is for other people are making the BMX community look bad by not standing together as an industry. BMX is fractured and full of drama and it doesn’t need to be that way. I like to ride everything from street to dirt to vert to mega. Right now I like vert and mega most because I really like to go fast, jump far, and go high on quarter pipes. I don’t hate on the 25th street edit posted this week of nose manuals and 180’s...it’s not my thing, but I can appreciate it without adding some hate to a broken industry. The big ramps are a crowd pleaser and entertainment, so it gets the general public watching BMX, which is a good thing for everyone in the industry. More knowledge brings more interest, which brings more buyers of BMX brands. BMX can have a lot more influence and power if all the riders stood together, but some people feel it’s still cool to put people down to make themselves feel better. I barely read the forums anymore since kids are too busy criticizing everyone else’s riding style to go out riding and find out what they’re true riding style is.
Still playing devil’s advocate here...What roll within the BMX industry do you think a big show like Nitro Circus plays?
BMX has a small fan base as compared to FMX, and when you put the two in the same venue riding together we gain more fans. Then add in Travis Pastrana and Nitro Circus and it’s making millions of people aware of what we do. Especially this time around since they’re filming for the Nitro Circus 3D movie getting released next summer. If a kid sees a triple backflip in the show this weekend and then bugs their dad to pick up a Ride magazine at the grocery store, then it’s a positive connection. Then they read the magazine and see Dakota Roche jumping a gap and they see what they can do at home, then it’s a positive connection. Variety is a good thing...not everyone wants to see street all the time, or vert all the time...or any one thing over and over. There is a positive in everything, just like there is a negative side to everything, but I choose to be positive and still support the riders that just don’t understand what I do or can’t/won’t ride a mega. Don’t hate just because it’s different from what you do.
Since you have been on a few of the Bikes Over Baghdad tours over in Iraq recently, what’s it like going from doing those shows to something so elaborate like Nitro Circus?
Right after this Vegas show I’ll be going home and then fly the next day to Iraq and this is the second time my schedule has been like this between the two shows. The shows couldn’t be more different, but the fans we have in Iraq know Nitro Circus really well. Being able to make that connection of being in both shows is amazing. The troops watch X Games, Nitro, and Dew Tour since those things get broadcast at the bases, so those big events are doing a lot of good providing entertainment for the soldiers and giving us common ground to talk about with the troops since they recognize us and come talk to us. The show itself is different for obvious reasons, but each show is fun in it’s own way. This month in Iraq it should be about 130 degrees rather than here in Vegas inside the air-conditioned MGM Grand.
With Tweets and Facebook posts like, “Almost to the landing spot to watch Travis Pastrana jump off the roof of the hotel...”, obviously some crazy stuff goes on even when you aren’t doing the show, right? What kind of stuff do you guys do during all the down time in between the shows?
In the past we’ve gone as a group to skydive, race camels, visit tourist spots like the Sydney Opera House, jet boats in the Sydney Harbor, drive across half of the southern side of OZ, race cars, and so much other stuff it’s hard to remember it all. Glad I wrote all of it down while on the tour...
Can you end this interview with a story of something wild, crazy, funny, interesting, etc. that’s gone down since you’ve been with the Nitro Circus crew?
A group of us went to the middle of nowhere in Australia, driving in the van for about four or five hours to get to a town that I could throw a rock from one side to the other. Stayed the night in a shady little hotel and went camel racing the next day! It’s not a graceful organized animal and it smells so bad you can’t tell which end is the ass, but we went for it and raced the camels. I was in the first heat on the biggest camel...it went anywhere it wanted to like through the bushes and zig-zagged across the road a lot. I lost and when my camel decided to sit down to let me off it sat on a barb wire fence and at that point decided to walk away from the group on it’s own with me on it’s back. Haha! We left very amused with the morning races and proceeded to drive home and stopped for food an hour into the drive. A girl shows up flustered that she missed us at the camel races and chased us down to get her photo with Travis, Roner, and Joleen. That girl then got Joleen’s autograph tattooed on her rib cage after the show the next night.
Any last words, or shout outs? Am I leaving anything out?
Thanks to all my family, friends, sponsors, and anyone I’ve ridden with since one way or another you’ve helped me be who I am today. I’m going to keep riding the way I want and on what I want because that’s what freestyle BMX is to me...it’s fun and that’s what matters. I love learning, progressing, and being with my friends on these tours, so thanks Travis for inviting me on this Circus of crazy people. The show isn’t sold out, so come see the mayhem and have fun tomorrow night in Las Vegas. If you can’t make it here then look for updates on Facebook, Twitter or the video highlights on the NC web page soon.
For more info about the Nitro Circus Live tour, or to buy tickets for tomorrow’s show in Las Vegas, hit up nitrocircuslive.com.