Nyjah Huston was the star of last year’s X Games, and he is looking to defend his skateboard street title. Photo by Travis Burke/ESPN Images
X Games' Sal Masekela (right) interviews Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at last year’s X Games. Photo by Brian Brantley
Chad Kerly won the gold medal in the BMX Street event at X Games Asia. Photo by Charlie Xia/ESPN Images
150 of the world’s best action sports athletes will be on hand at the X Games, being held Thursday thru Sunday.
There is no other place in the world where a spectator can see an athlete fly 70 feet through the air… on a skateboard! Or perform backflips… on a motorcycle! And do not forget about the BMX riders, who are pretty much gymnasts… on bicycles!
“For people who have never been to an X Games before, or an action sports event of this level, they are going to see the best action sports athletes in the world,” said Sal Masekela, the voice of the X Games.
This is not a normal sporting event, where spectators take a seat for three hours and watch what is presented in front of them. The X Games features athletes who specialize in the insane, and fans are able to bounce around from one event to the next.
“It’s like going to a mini Olympics of sorts,” Masekela said. “You look on your schedule to see what is going on today. You’re not going to see two teams duke it out. You have the opportunity to see over 150 athletes who are the best in the world at their specific sport.”
Masekela said that kids who attend for the first time leave wanting their parents to buy them skateboard and BMX bikes, because the culture is so engaging and the athletes are so spectacular. And he also points out that adults have a great time because they form an appreciation for an individual who pushes his skills to an extreme level.
This is a family event that is great for people of all ages, and one great part is the X Fest, where people can interact with athletes and the games itself.
“When you roll to the X Games it is more than just watching the competition,” Masekela said. “It’s a whole lifestyle end of it. We’re all down there hanging out, all the sponsors are there and the kids get to meet the athletes and get autographs and win stuff. It’s a whole area where people get the feeling of the culture.”
There are a couple athletes to look out for.
The star of last year’s X Games turned out to be Nyjah Huston, who is part black. He is a skateboarder who at the age of 16 became the youngest gold medalist in the skateboard street event, and over the course of this past year he has dominated his competition on his way to defending his title.
Huston is battling through an injured knee, but he said that will not stop him from competing at a high level, and he is looking to showcase some maneuvers that he has been working on.
“I haven’t looked at the course yet, so I don’t know what type of obstacles are out there, but I should still be able to do a couple new tricks,” Huston said.
Huston said that when he is not competing during the X Games, he shoots over to the Moto X course inside Staples Center to watch his favorite riders. But do not worry, he has no plans of switching events, which may be a little too insane for anybody.
Another athlete to watch out for is BMX rider Chad Kerly, who is also part black. This will be his first time performing at the X Games, but he has attended every year since he was younger, and he is ready to take his shot at stardom.
“This was always more of a dream than something that was a reality or something that I actually thought that I could actually get into,” Kerly said.
Kerly has always enjoyed the X Games because he and his friends would hangout for the weekend and watch the riders that he idolized. With countless hours riding his bike in the streets and making numerous videos, he was able to get his big shot at X Games Asia earlier this year, and he seized the moment by taking the gold in Shanghai, China. But he knows that it will be a little tougher here in the States.
“Everybody in my event are like the best riders in the world,” Kerly said. “They’re people that I’ve looked up to.”
As a black athlete in a predominantly white sport, the recent high school graduate has felt more than welcomed in this sport.
“I think there are a lot more African American riders now,” Kerly said. “There were only a few dudes that were really like big time when I first started. Now it is more common to see African American riders.”
The X Games never disappoints, and L.A. Live will be the place to be this weekend. For more information, visit www.xgames.com