Some people who didn’t attend X Games Minneapolis had a better view for contests than anyone at U.S. Bank Stadium. They watched from inside the street course’s Viking ship.
ESPN broadcast events live in virtual reality to the public for the first time this weekend. The broadcasts were available in 48 countries to anyone with Samsung Gear VR headsets and a compatible Samsung cellphone.
Saturday, ESPN carried the amateur street skateboarding finals. The company also showed the Skateboard Vert final and BMX Street final in virtual reality this weekend.
The broadcast is a partnership between ESPN, Samsung and the production company Digital Domain. About 30 people worked on the production, which included a separate sideline reporter, Victoria Arlen.
ESPN used six virtual reality cameras, including one attached to the Spidercam that moves above the competition floor.
A cheering party
Kevin Peraza’s smile seemed to stretch as long as the banner held by his parents, brothers and friends in the stands of U.S. Bank Stadium while he won X Games gold in Saturday’s BMX Park event.
Peraza, a Tucson, Ariz., native, had a traveling party there as he biked his way to a second gold medal in as many years. A gold and red banner bearing his last name stretched across seats just above the park course.
“That was a big motivation,” Peraza said. “Brought a big smile to my face.”
Aussie motocross rider Jarryd McNeil defended his X Games gold in the Moto X Step Up, in which riders try to clear the highest vertical bar. It’s somewhat like pole vaulting, but instead on 250-pound machines.
McNeil’s jump of 44 feet in the air fell just short of the Games record. He settled for posting the second-highest leap ever in the events.
American Ronnie Renner still holds the record with 47 feet in 2012.
Catching Big Air
Elliot Sloan’s hands shook after he did what no skater had on the X Games’ biggest attraction — the MegaRamp. Sloan captured the gold medal in the Big Air Skateboarding event with a flurry of spins, including a two-and-a-half rotation and board grab called an Indy 900.
“Just unreal, man. I’d never done that before,” Sloan said. “No one has done that one. I wanted to do it while no one had done that one.”
Sloan, a 28-year-old American, edged Tom Schaar, who landed a 720-degree tailgrab to claim the silver medal.