Metal fish on frozen water |

Metal fish on frozen water

Shauna FarnellVail Daily
Mike Metzger in the Moto X Best Trick competiton at Winter X Games 10 on Sunday. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Motorcycles and snow are a dangerous mix. Just ask Kenny Bartram, who, like the rest of the motorcross riders in Winter X Games, hails from a warm climate and regularly competes on dirt. While the tires on the 250-pound motorcycles at Winter X have big, medieval-like spikes to grip the ice, riders are not exactly in their element.”We can’t feel our hands and our feet because everything we have is vented and is made for summertime,” Bartram said. “Also, a bike doesn’t run right in the winter at 9,000 feet. They don’t have enough oxygen up here. When everything’s cold, the suspension gets real stiff. Most people don’t ride motorcycles in the snow.”Then, why did X Games masterminds decide to include Moto X in its winter lineup beginning six years ago?”We added Moto X best trick to the summer version, and it was instantly met with overwhelming positive response from viewers and spectators. Everyone loved it,” said Winter X Games general manager Chris Stiepock. “It very quickly became one of our signature competitions. We asked the motocross riders if they had the capabilities to do what they do on snow. They love what they do.”While the riders may love what they do, not all of them love doing it on snow.”Me, personally, I hate this event,” said Jim McNeil, who crashed and separated his shoulder at his first Winter X Games last year and broke a knuckle practicing for this year’s event. “It’s like putting a snowmobile guy on dirt or a snowboarder on sand. It makes you a little nervous. The conditions always seem a little bad, just something to make it a little more dangerous.”Of course, spectators say the danger factor is one of the main reasons they love watching Moto X.”It’s insane when it’s on regular ground, but when you throw in the snow and you throw in this, it’s just really insane,” said Denver’s Charmaine Briscoe, who was watching motocross practice on Saturday night before the finals were postponed due to snowfall. “This is definitely what I come out here to see. If they fall, it’s a lot more extreme. They have … 300 pounds that could possibly fall on them.”Board to bike, bike to boardEven the most successful winter sport athletes take off their hats to the Moto X contingent.”I love watching them practice when I’m on the hill. I love it,” said X Games 2006 snowboarding halfpipe winner and Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark. “I don’t know very much about the sport, but I imagine it’s a lot harder to land on ice than it is to land on dirt.””Those guys rip,” agreed four-time X Games snowboarding champion Shaun White. “Honestly, I don’t really know anything about motocross, but it’s just gnarly from watching it. I went to the desert one time and tried it. I hit a rock with my head and put my foot in the spoke. It just wasn’t that rad. I have a lot of respect for those guys.”Funny enough, motocross riders express a similar admiration for athletes in other Winter X events.”When I see Shaun White or any other guy, everyone’s cool,” said Moto X 2003 gold and 2004 silver medalist Mike Metzger, back in competition this year after a set of horrid accidents last year. Metzger’s lengthy list of injuries includes a broken back he sustained jumping 65 feet on a snowboard a few years ago.”I’ve done everything from racing downhill mountain bikes to BMX freestyle. I love skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing,” Metzger said. “But I know where my income comes from. I know what I do best. I feel more comfortable going over a 100-foot jump [on a motorcycle] than a 10-foot jump on a snowboard. That’s what I’m sticking with.”

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