The X-Games; crazy dudes hucking their bodies off of shit and making you feel inadequate for twenty years and running. I got dragged to the inaugural edition by my dad back in ’94 and had my five-year-old mind blown by bungee jumpers getting wonky off of super cranes and Storm Trooper-looking lugers rocketing into hay bales. It permanently distorted my perspectives and I was lucky enough to come back and attend this year’s edition in Austin thanks to Harley-Davidson. Pushing to get flat track racing on the bill — the most badass but under-reported form of motorcycle racing around — Harley was there flaunting their new Street XG 750 and 500, nimble little things geared toward urban bros looking for a ride that doesn’t want to kill them with every twist of the throttle. Held in and out of Austin city limits but centered around the Circuit of the Americas, the X-Games was the track’s most-attended event to date and was jam-packed with characters of all sorts. From crazy hairdos to Class A rappers, here are the Top 10 Most Unexpected Things We Found At The X-Games.
Set squat in the middle of the grounds was what appeared to be a speedball course. I got excited thinking paintball had been added to the competition but turns out it was just an inflatable home for ninjas toting laser guns. But really, along with flat track, paintball should totally be added to the competition. An even better idea; combine the two.
Not only were there ninjas, but the Navy brought along a pair of what I think were bomb-sniffing robots. They seemed to have a strange affection for popcorn though, something which kind of makes sense when you realize popcorn is just a bunch of mini explosions. The Army also had a crazy-ass dune buggy that could sport .50 caliber machine guns, RPGs and whatnot. It was unfortunately gunless and we couldn’t drive it, but it did have a VW-Porsche engine. Awesome; yes. American; not so much.
8. Cowboy Boots
What with it being the X-Games and all, I thought skate kicks and flip flops would be de rigueur. Boy, was I wrong; clearly I forgot I was in Texas. Another unexpected surprise was the presence of a Major League Gaming tent where you could escape the sweltering heat and get your game on. While I’m sure many an armchair athlete was stoked to give their thumbs a workout, I thought it kind of went against the whole “Extreme” thing.
7. A Giant Pond
Feeling a bit more like a massive state fair than an extreme sports competition, the X-Games debuted their “enhanced festival-style experience” in Austin. This meant we spent more time milling about like cattle looking aimlessly at Skype and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tents than watching guys with balls the size of Epcot hurling themselves into the wild blue yonder. Luckily, there was a giant pond in the middle of the grounds to chill around and escape the chaos. Not so luckily, it was filled with more little kids than sexy skate bunnies. Regardless, I didn’t go in; who knows what those punks got up to in there.
6. Bald Spots & Dread Locks
Dread locks, now those were to be expected. But this, this was something entirely different and had to take some serious time to develop. The question is though; which came first?
5. A Re-Designed Legend
The X-Games only started twenty years ago but Evel Knievel was making panties drop long before Pastrana. His steed, the Harley-Davidson XR-750; the most winningest motorcycle in history and ride of choice for flat-track stars Scott Parker, Chris Carr and new-kid-on-the-block and 2013 AMA champion, Brad Baker. Minimally revised since its 1970 debut, Harley’s decided that they’re tired of winning national titles with a forty-year-old design and had on hand two brand-new prototype XRs developed off the XG 750. Sexy as all hell, if flat track makes it into the competition, the finished version of these are sure to be something special.
4. Bull Riding
Texas is Texas and it is the only state in the Union with an ‘x’ in its name so it made sense one of its favorite pastimes would be included in the Games. They even had a mechanical lasso contraption. No, we were not allowed to lasso the southern belles. Did we want to? Oh yes.
3. Cornholes, Lots of Cornholes.
Extreme cornholeing? Bro… c’mon.
2. Old dudes throwing up the horns
I lied; this was totally expected.
With artists like Kanye and The Flaming Lips headlining, the musical entertainment seemed to draw almost more attention than the athletes. The queue for Mr. West and Mac Miller snaked through the grounds endlessly and had people waiting in anticipation for hours. About as un-extreme as they get, we never expected Aubrey to show up but were pleasantly surprised when he decided to make a cameo appearance.