Fairly early yesterday I saw I got a video text from Anthony Napolitan. To be honest, I get a lot of videos sent to me (to post to the Ride instagram), so I didn’t immediately open it. I finished up a bit of work and opened up my phone and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I legitimately thought it was fake. After a second viewing, I realized that Anthony was the luckiest motherfucker on the planet. I told him to go buy a lottery ticket. I posted it on the Ride insta and Anthony texted back and forth a bit throughout the day as I watched it go viral. Sportscenter. Daily Mail. Who knows where else…rightfully so, of course. At some point in the day I figured it was a good idea to ask Anthony a few questions about the scenario (full disclosure, Jeff Z sent him these questions, but whatever)… So yeah, how’d you get on that fence Anthony?
So what went wrong, how did you end up coming up short?
I showed up at the park with a couple different lines for speed in mind. The hardest part was finding a line that gave me enough speed and also put me dead on in line with the fence. When you front flip going on an angle it sort of puts you into an uncontrollable off axis spin, so I wanted to avoid that. I showed Nathan Sykes the lines and we both decided what line was best. Fast forwarding, I'm still completely convinced that I could pull this off with the exact line and speed. Where things went wrong was right on the take off. I popped it harder than I would've liked to. Had I popped the fronty and gave a little push through I'm pretty certain I would've made it. If you look at the video you can see that I peak out 1-1.5ft over the fence. Had I used that energy to go forward and almost hover/roll over the fence everything would've been fine. Ultimately having more speed would've a huge factor.
When did you realize you were going to land on the fence?
I've been doing front flips for a long time and on so many different setups. Dirt, box jumps, mega ramp, wedge ramps, THE WEDGE in AZ etc. I have pretty good air awareness as to what's going on in the areas I can't see. Just as the sky came into view I knew the fence was right underneath me. I just had a feeling. The initial pop off the lip was a dead giveaway for me. I knew the fence was somewhere below my back. And I really think that thought kept me calm because I was expecting to see the fence as I came around. And as I came around there it was. I literally could've missed the moment in the blink of an eye because it happened so fast. And it's real unbelievable how fast your brain works and how fast the dots get connected in situations like this. When I saw the fence I basically spotted my landing on it. My front Flip instincts took over to the point that I controlled the landing onto the fence...and I think it shows in the video. I'd say I landed as graciously as possible.
Did you try to do anything to prevent getting impaled? Or was it just total luck?
Honestly, it was just pure luck. Both of my arms and legs landed perfectly into the fence posts. I bashed my left wrist on the top of one of them, but it just got red and was gone the next day thankfully.
It’s hard to tell in the video what exactly happened when you landed on the fence. What went where?
It's kind of hard to explain. As I came down on the fence my bike had already cleared the top of it to the other side. My arms and legs wedged down into the vertical uprights of the fence and the vertical post came up between my legs. I landed so perfectly on the fence that it didn't even catch a part of my jeans or anything. From the outside angle you can see that the center post stopped my body. It looks like it violently stopped me. But it honestly felt like someone just poked me in the sternum with their finger. It was really weird.
You’re reaction seemed really calm. What was going through your mind at that moment?
My reaction was for sure calm. I've kind of trained myself to stay calm in situations when I'm bailing or getting wrecked. I just think it helps to be calm and just roll with the punches when things are going wrong. Once I landed I was in complete shock. You can see in the video where there is a pause and I'm not really moving. That was me taking it all in. When I realized everything was okay I turned back at nathan and yelled, "WHAT THE HECK!" I just couldn't believe what happened. I threw my bike down (which for some reason I was still holding onto) and started to get my wedged legs out of the fence.
You said you didn’t get a scratch, literally no injury, bruise...nothing?
Everything was best-case scenario. The worst of it all was because my legs were so stuck in the fence. I had three really big and dark bruises on the inside, outside, and backs of my thighs because the fence pinched them in so tight. I pretty much had dead leg for the rest of the day and I was pretty sore the next couple days.
What were people’s reactions who where there?
I was with Nathan Sykes and Evan Flockalane. They couldn't believe their eyes. I think even Evan dropped a fat F-Bomb once I threw my bike down. The park was pretty busy as well. So every human in the park came rushing over. I stayed outside the park for about 15min until everyone went back to doing what they were before I decided to accidentally blow their minds. I ended up riding the rest of the night. I could see everyone staring at me waiting for me to try it again. My legs were so cooked by that point.
Was it hard to get down?
It was actually really hard to get down. I was wedged in so tight. I had to wiggle one leg out at a time little by little. Finally I got one to break free and I kind of had to use it for leverage to keep myself up there while I got the other loose. I was actually terrified that I was going to bruise my feet when I landed back on the ground.
That was a gnarly move in general, are you currently filming for something?
Nathan and I have been filming an edit for a long time. It was originally going to be a welcome to Colony edit. My schedule gets so crazy and Nathan also has a lot going on. So we kind of got past the point of a "welcome" style edit. Over time we have gotten so much awesome footage that I'm really stoked on! It has a really good mix of riding, style, and tricks. I've basically been trying to wrap up bangers and this was supposed to be one of them. We sat down a few days ago and put everything into a time line and realized we had 20 minutes of unedited footage that we need to narrow down to three minutes and 30 seconds, haha!
Do you think you’ll ever try it again?
I still have full confidence in myself. I know I can do it. It all really boils down to a better line choice in the bowl. I don't know if I will do it in time for this edit. My wife kind of laughed when I showed her the clip originally and I think after it went viral and she started reading comments it really made her nervous that I am going to go back and do it again. A lot of other friends and family really don't want me to do it. Nathan straight up told me that I would need to find another filmer and that he isn't going to do it. I think he was bluffing though. I'm just really back and forth about it at the moment. I didn't do it for anyone else but myself. I've thought about doing it since the day I watched Jeff Slatts 360 it in person for the Markit DVD. I was actually really bummed at the park that day because I basically got shutdown and that made me want to conquer it even more. I'm 100% confident in my ability to front flip over that fence. I just need to find speed in the bowl that makes me 100% confident in the line choice.