So, another X Games is behind us; next year marks the tenth anniversary of the whole shebang, and it’ll be in Los Angeles again, so I’m sure there will be some sort of overblown hoopla to celebrate it.To be honest, there needs to be, because compared to the last two years in Philly, the LA X Games fell pretty flat, in my opinion. I can’t put a finger on why, but it just didn’t feel as exciting this year. It certainly wasn’t bad, I guess I was just expecting more. You would think they would have really gone over the top Hollywood style, but it just didn’t seem to be as big of a production overall. Maybe it’s just that a typical Southern California crowd of people is made up of “extreme” types already, so the event is just not as out of place and unique as it would be in a Midwestern city.

Simon O’Brien spins a switch-footed upside-down megaspin on the pedal, earning a fat bag of loot in the process.  credit: Kevin McAvoy

I was still psyched on seeing a bunch of people I don’t normally get to see throughout the year, especially on the flatland side of things, since it’s such an international discipline these days. Here are a few things that come to mind when I think back on the flat contest at the X Games:

The Heat

It was really hot. There was a tent on site with a couple of those mist fans, but I was still sweating my ass off, and I wasn’t even riding. Throughout the course of practice, riders would session for a little bit before overheating and taking a break, so it was difficult for some to deal with the constant warming up/cooling down cycles that interrupted their rhythm. The riding area (more on that below) had a fresh layer of jet-black tar on it, so it only made things worse.

Steingrà¤ber, brakeless decade on a titanium bike.  credit: Kevin McAvoy

Michael Steingrà¤ber’s Bike

Michael’s frame, fork, bars, and seatpost were all titanium. It looked trick, and it weighed next to nothing. If somebody can figure out how to do this economically, it’d be the way to go for flatland.

Marcos Paulo de Jesus

Marcos has always been fast; now it seems like he’s a little faster, and a lot more consistent. While everyone else was primarily sticking to one spot in practice, he’d tear through the whole area and bust something crazy, catching everyone’s eye. He was working on this wild tailwhip out of a backyard thing that’s going to be pretty sick when he gets it dialed.

The Riding Area

At first glance, it looked okay, but upon closer inspection, it could have been better. It was slightly slanted, and despite the fresh layer of tar that got sticky as the sun beat down on it, it still managed to be a little dusty. It certainly could have been worse, though. Like they could have painted a giant, bright, complex logo in the middle that screwed with your concentration when you rolled over it. Oh, wait, they did.

Viki (here) and Martti are currently testing prototypes of the first KGB frame.  credit: Kevin McAvoy


No, not the Russian security agency, the company that Martti Kuoppa and Jorge “Viki” Gomez founded. Martti and Viki brought their “Psychonnecta” prototypes over to North American soil and shredded it in practice. Unfortunately, Martti couldn’t deliver the perfect runs he’s managed to bust out for the last three years for X Games gold, but Viki rode well and settled into fifth place. Keep on eye on KGB; it looks like they’lll be coming out with some innovative stuff.

The Lack of Suspense

As I mentioned earlier, this year’s X Games just didn’t seem as exciting. There were no qualifiers for flat this year, just a final round with all 20 riders. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not, but everyone just seemed mellow and the whole thing was anticlimactic. It was still a good contest, but it seems like last year had a bit more drama and suspense.

Nathan Penonzek earned a silver medal, so with his winnings, he’ll be able to visit even more exotic places next year.  credit: Kevin McAvoy

Simon O’Brien’s been on a bit of a roll, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. He added an X Games gold medal to the load of stuff he’s acquired while roaming around the States this summer. Speaking of roaming, Nathan Penonzek rolled his gypsy ways right up onto the X Games podium, picking off a long-overdue silver medal, and Trevor Meyer picked up another medal to add to his collection, this one colored bronze. The ’03 X Games are history, and another contest “season” is in the bag, so it’s time to get back to what really matters: just riding. So, go ride. Seriously, get out of here.

Trevor Meyer is no stranger to the X Games podium. Bronze for ’03.  credit: Kevin McAvoy

1. Simon O’Brien Erowal Bay, NSW AUS 93.40 $17,000
2. Nathan Penonzek Gibsons, B.C. CAN 92.00 9,000
3. Trevor Meyer Chaska, MN 88.60 6,500
4. Ryoji Yamamoto Tokushima-Ken, JPN 88.00 4,000
5. Jorge Gomez Madrid, ESP 86.80 3,000
6. Phil Dolan London, GBR 86.20 2,000
7. Michael Sommer Vienna, AUT 85.80 1,500
8. Stephen Cerra Redondo Beach, CA 85.80 1,300
9. Matt Wilhelm Lisle, IL 85.40 1,000
10. Hiroya Morisaki Tokushima, JPN 85.20 900
11. Jesse Puente Venice, CA 84.20 500
12. Michael Steingrà¤ber Hamburg, GER 84.00 500
13. Terry Adams Hammond, LA 83.00 500
14. Manuel Prado Laguna Hills, CA 82.80 500
15. York Uno Ishikawa, Kanazawa, JPN 81.80 500
16. Chad Johnston Long Beach,CA 81.40 500
17. Martti Kuoppa Helsinki, FIN 79.80 500
18. Aaron Behnke Morgantown, WV 79.20 500
19. Marcos de Jesus Sau Paulo, BRA 78.60 500
20. Travis Collier Port Coquitlam, BC CAN 77.80 500

Ryoji Yamamoto quietly snuck by 16 other riders and earned the fourth place spot.  credit: Kevin McAvoy