Colton Walker was born about a mile away from the Metrodome. Around the time the old Vikings home was razed, Walker’s BMX career was just taking shape in his hometown of New Richmond, Wis. When both U.S. Bank Stadium and Walker were grown enough, the 21-year-old returned to announce his arrival on the BMX scene.
Walker exploded onto the X Games stage last year with flair, control and a BMX Dirt gold medal. He defended his title Saturday night with a cheering section of about 20 family and friends in the stands.
However, Walker fell victim to BMX stars aligning to his level of talent. Five of the 10 competitors scored above a 90, including Walker’s 91.66 that placed him fourth — just outside the podium. Walker won with a 93 last year, which would have netted him only a bronze medal on Saturday night. Australian Brandon Loupos took home gold, scoring 95 on his final run.
“The level of riding today was pretty crazy,” Walker said. “The scores were gnarly as well. They were straight up into the 90s right away.”
A smattering of black and green T-shirts designated members of Walker’s family with labels like “Colton’s Mom” and “Colton’s Sister” on the back. Blown-up images of Colton’s face also decorated the lower bowl during his runs. The Walker family came in full force, even more so than during his X Games debut.
“I think they didn’t really understand how big this was,” Walker said. “Then after they watched it last year they’re like OK, this is a pretty big deal. We want to go.”
Walker has become a pretty big deal since his days riding Jellystone Park in Wisconsin. He’s come a long way from hoping the X Games would simply notice him enough for an invite. His fledgling career, which started with a severed pancreas as a preteen during a freak BMX accident, has since burst into budding stardom.
Walker parlayed back-to-back BMX titles at the Nitro World Games into his first X Games invitation. That led to the gold medal, world tours and sponsorships. The past year competing in the FISE World Series tour has taken him across Asia and Europe. Trips to China and Hungary are up next.
But it was back in Minneapolis where his career hit hyper speed.
“It changes as in like I’m an X Games gold medalist,” Walker said. “People really understand that’s a crazy accomplishment, I guess. ”
Now he is hearing others point out his credentials.
“It still doesn’t really sink in,” Walker said. “That’s insane.”
He’s got a confession, of sorts.
Walker’s daily commitment to BMX doesn’t allow much time for other sports. So he’s not much of an NFL fan.
But he watched enough football on Sundays to become a Packers fan. Fitting into the rebellious skater stereotype, Walker said he solely cheered for green and gold to stand against the majority of his household in western Wisconsin.
“There’s one specific reason: my family all likes the Vikings,” Walker said. “Yeah, so I chose the Packers. My cousin, my uncle and me like the Packers and everyone else likes the Vikings.”
Unfortunately for the Packers, Walker has won inside U.S. Bank Stadium more than Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers have yet to defeat the Vikings in two trips to their new home. Despite all the purple, Walker echoed the chorus of X Games athletes lauding the stadium as the ideal venue for their sports.
Above all, Walker said, is the platform to give BMX necessary exposure. He’s passionate about spreading the sport to the next generation, just as he looked up to riders like Brett Banasiewicz when he started to compete around 12 years old.
“The stadium is awesome,” Walker said. “To be here and have action sports at the forefront of everything. That’s what everyone is here for is action sports.”