Wyatt wins wild Moto X | AspenTimes.com

Wyatt wins wild Moto X

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Caleb Wyatt, from Medford, Oregon, spins a backflip during his winning run at the X-Games MotoX finals, January 26,2004. Aspen Times photo/Nick Saucier

Even though he wiped out over his handlebars in his second jump, that first jump was enough to keep both defending gold medalist Mike Metzger and hard-charging challenger Nate Adams at bay.

Wyatt dubbed that no hands, no feet backflip, on a motorcycle, over a 90-foot ice jump “Smirnoff’s Ryatt.”

“I just came here and went for it,” Wyatt said to the reporters after his win. “I’m stoked. I’m overwhelmed.”

Wyatt, who hails from Medford, Ore., burst onto the Moto X freestyle scene in April 2002, when he became the first person to ever land and ride away from a backflip on a 250cc motorcycle.

Since then, athletes like Metzger, Travis Pastrana and Brian Deegan have used the trick and variations of it to bring home X Games gold. But this year Pastrana wasn’t in the competition, and Deegan didn’t make it to the finals.

During the qualifying jumps on Saturday, Deegan bailed from his bike in the middle of a backflip twist, falling about 45 feet onto the rock-hard ice landing. He broke his femur and wrists.

“It was scary ” it was really hard to see,” Darren Hallberg, a Los Angeles resident in town to see the X Games, said of Deegan’s crash. “When someone falls more than a few stories out of the air, it’s hard to look at.”

Wyatt’s crash on his final jump yesterday sent him over his handlebars after he didn’t get his front wheel out in front for the landing. After about a minute on his back, he stood up and walked away.

Metzger, of Menifee, Calif., pulled a nac-nac backflip (“Icing on the Cake”) on his final jump but was unable to unseat Wyatt from the top spot.

Wyatt’s crash didn’t affect his score, however, because his first jump chalked up a competition-high 92.8. Metzger took home silver, and Adams got the bronze.

“This weekend was the biggest for the progression of our sport,” Metzger said in a press release from ESPN. “I can’t wait to come back next year.”

Event organizer Paul Taublieb predicted before the finals that the winner would need to peg a backflip off the 90-foot jump and incorporate some other trick as well. He pointed out that the first-ever backflip over a 90-foot gap was successfully performed this weekend. (Wyatt’s 2002 backflip was off a 45-foot jump.)

“It’ll take a backflip over the 90-foot jump with some variation to win ” but the backflip is the basis,” Taubleib said.

Wyatt’s variation where he held onto the bike with his hands and let go with his feet, and then let go with his hands and held on with his feet, drew the loudest oohs and aahs from the crowd. It also proved most impressive for the five judges, all current or past figures in motorcycle jumping.

Asked if he practices maneuvers like the one he pulled yesterday, Wyatt said not really.

“A lot of these tricks are do or die. You only get to do them once,” he said.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]


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