X Games Minneapolis begins in earnest Thursday evening with the first finals event, BMX Vert, taking place outside near the U.S. Bank Stadium plaza.
That’s where Jamie Bestwick, the 46-year-old British rider, could tie Shaun White for the most gold medals in X Games history with his 15th. A victory would also break Bestwick’s tie with the late Dave Mirra to give him the most BMX gold medals in X Games history.
But showing up in Minneapolis was trial enough for Bestwick, who suffered a slipped disk in his back last month. He said he’s riding with only partial feeling in his left leg.
“Nobody ever turns up at X Games 100 percent healthy,” Bestwick said. “The biggest challenge is it sprung up out of nowhere. It’s a roll of the dice and a big gamble for me. I won’t know the payoff until I ride the finals [Thursday].”
The BMX Vert competition, in which Bestwick is a 13-time and reigning gold medalist, is one of the few X Games events taking place outside the stadium. Bestwick hopes the sun will help him warm up as he’s dealt with partial feeling on the outside of his leg, ranging from his hip to his toes.
On Father’s Day, Bestwick said he felt a “pop” in his back while riding, which sent him to the emergency room and began his recent pain and attempt at a quick recovery.
“Pretty much gone to everybody other than a witch doctor,” Bestwick said.
He would like to tie White for most X Games golds, but said he’d rather see a fellow British rider and one of his competitors, Simon Tabron, win. Tabron has the most silver medals (six) in X Games history without also having won a gold.
“There are certain things I’d like to see before I kind of hang up the bike,” Bestwick said. “One of them is my good friend Simon Tabron, I’d love for him to win one of these.”
An indoor marvel
Nearly every gravity-defying X Games event is nestled inside U.S. Bank Stadium, the 66,000-seat home to the Vikings. Athletes such as BMX rider Colton Satterfield couldn’t imagine how the MegaRamp, a massive 365-foot-long and 82-foot-tall structure for the Big Air competitions, would fit indoors.
“When I walked in here, I thought they’d shrunk the ramp,” said Satterfield, the two-time reigning BMX Big Air champion. “I didn’t know a building could be this big until I went through it.”
One bonus will be the lack of wind, often an obstacle for Big Air competitors and high-flying dirt bike riders.
“We’re just stoked not to be in the wind,” said motocross rider Jackson Strong.
‘Back to normal’
Skateboarder Jordyn Barratt is fresh off becoming the first woman to ever compete last month in the Dew Tour, a 12-year-old competition broadcast by NBC. Barratt, the 18-year-old Hawaii native, is back for her second X Games run after earning a bronze medal in her skateboard park course debut last year.
“It was really fun being the only girl,” Barratt said. “All the guys were super supportive of me, but now that I’m with the girls, it’s kind of back to normal.”