Over the past 10 years I witnessed X Games history from the comfort of my couch only wishing to one day find myself in the crowd to see it live. After the 2014 Austin X Games, I no longer wish to ever see the Summer X Games from a couch again, and highly recommend others take the same stance. Growing up I dabbled in a handful of extreme sports, skateboarding, BMX, and snowboarding, just to name a few. Of course never reaching the level of the X Games athletes, but was always blown away at the maneuvers they could pull off. No matter your stance on the “X-treme” sports movement, taking in the skill of these guys first hand is something that will leave just about anyone in disbelief.
Considering my past, you can only imagine how ecstatic I became when Austin, Texas finally secured the bid to host the X Games. For three days straight I was at the Circuit of the Americas from 10AM to midnight or later soaking in everything I had only ever seen on TV; it was phenomenal. The most surprising thing to me was not only the amount of people that showed up but the diversity in age. From toddlers running around enjoying a cool break in Austin360 Amphitheaters fountain to their grandparents grabbing a cold one at the same time and everyone in between, Austin gave the Summer X Games one of the largest crowds in the history of the sport.
While the heat may have been a bit of a shock for the athletes, Texas natives were far too familiar with mid-June weather to avoid such an event and the crowd seemed to grow with the temperature. COTA and the X Games did a great job of providing heat relief at every corner from the exhilarating mist stations to the watering hole oasis’ to fill up your bottle. But if I am being completely honest, they could have foregone all of those and while losing most of the crowd on the first day, I would have still been front and center at 10AM the next day.
There were more activities happening around COTA that being bored between events would have been challenging for even the most ADD minded person, and it was, I promise! But if I had to give you five reasons to get out to the X Games next year here they are:
5. Vert Competition Downtown
Unfortunately I decided to sit this one out in 2014 and watch it from home…big mistake. After seeing the atmosphere on TV and hearing about it all weekend from friends that were in attendance, I won’t be making this mistake again next year. As one of the X Games most high-flying events, skateboard and BMX Vert should definitely make your list whether you plan to head out to COTA or not because it’s free! And awesome.
4. Skateboard/BMX Street
Though anything BMX related is usually my favorite event, the things these guys can do with a skateboard blows my mind. Having watched some of these guys grow up from their early days of skating like Ryan Sheckler, P.Rod, and Nyjah Houston it was really cool to see them in the flesh killing it on the street course. I would definitely recommend upgrading to the all-sports package for the skateboard street. If you get to the event early enough you can snag a good spot to watch from but the upgraded bleachers are literally right in front of the course and make for some great seats.
3. Skateboard/BMX Park
Imagine a giant swimming pool. Now take out all of the water and add some pivots in the middle of the shallow end. Then add a giant Texas cut out on one side of the pool and you’ve got your Austin X Games Park course. Though this course was a bit more compact than it has been in past years, the creativity of guys like Ryan Nyquist and local Austinite Chase Hawk, who took home the gold, was by far one of the most exciting live events I have ever seen. Similar to the street course, the upgraded bleachers are great seats but there are bleachers for GA attendees that were not bad as long as you got there early enough to get a seat.
2. BMX Dirt
Hands down my most anticipated event, mainly due to the fact that it’s what I used to do in college. Even more impressive was the view from the dirt course. The 5 massive jumps started at the top of turn 1 and looked out over the entire compound at COTA making for some great scenery while riders stormed through the jumps. Combining twists, spins, flips and turns with massive amounts of air can only lead to a huge crowd gasping at every flight taken by some of the best riders in the world. No real difference in seating options for the BMX Dirt course so next year you can skip out on upgrading here.
1. Big Air
Even though the weather muted skateboarders and bikers on this 50 foot+ drop in, seeing them soar over the 60+ foot gap and head right into a giant half pipe was epic. I have always known that the jump was big…but damn. Standing next to the jump was surreal. To think that in a couple of hours men my size would be flying down the ramp only to be launched into the air all the while pulling off double back-flips, 360’s, 540’s, and other insane tricks. If you only get a chance to see one thing next year, make sure it involves the Big Air Jump. With a jump so massive, there was really no bad seat in the house but if you can manage Crown Royal Tent passes you’ll have an amazing view.
That’s a wrap on my top 5 reasons to head out to the X Games next year but with other events like Moto X freestyle, Rally Car races, the first ever Super Trucks race, and not to mention Kanye West, Mac Miller, and Gary Clark Jr. the decision didn’t come easy. So unless you’re set on seeing just one event next year I would recommend a three day pass to experience all the X Games has to offer.