The 2018 Minneapolis X Games Come To A Soaring Conclusion

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I arrived for the last Day of the 2018 X Games early, exhausted and tired running on 3 hours of sleep. But even in my not so bright state of mind I noticed 2 changes. Gone were the dirt ramps and jumps. The ground had been flattened into a race track (that one I was expecting). The surprise was that the audience had changed as well. Many were, for lack of a better word…burly (I’m burly myself, so sush, I can use that word). Well that only made sense as 2 Harley Davidson events were scheduled for Sunday AM.

I had to look up what Hooling racing was – the best explanation I found was ‘Run what you brung’ – basically it’s amateur / semi pro racing on stripped down street bikes. The bikes are as  distinct as their owners and watching them was good fun.

Harley-Davidson Hooligan Racing

The Harley-Davidson Flat Track Racing is Hooligan’s more grown up cousin with pro teams and riders. Usually on held on a longer concrete surface, the shorter dirt course proved to be challenging to the riders and cool to watch. I couldn’t help but wonder if the boxes that marked the inner border of the track and that got kicked loose frequently were caused by tighter turns or if they were simply part of that racing series.

Harley-Davidson Flat Track Racing

Women’s Skateboard Park featured our strongest local contender Nicole Hause from Stillwater. The difference in riding styles (to my amateur eyes) from the men’s competition was interesting more relying on flow than strength. The field was also quite young with 3 of the 8 competitors being teens. Heck, gold medalist, Brighton Zeuner just turned 14 and she was last year’s winner as well. And Sable Norris took 2nd at her X Games debut, also at just 13.All women wore helmets (where the men had not) different rules? Or do girls just have more comment sense?

Nicole Hause came in 5th but certainly won for biggest and loudest fan section.

Women’s Skateboard Park Final

Men’s Street Finals also had a local connection: Alec Majerus from Rochester. This seemed to the the most anticipated event with a huge crowd and models in Monster outfits placed around the course. (Can we get some oilded up dudes for the women’s competition next year? Seems only fair). At the end of some spectacular runs, Nyjah Huston emerged victorious.  

Monster Energy Men’s Skateboard Street Final

Closing the competition were the BMX Park Finals, with Wisconsin native Mykel Larriin lending a somewhat MN connection. The Park course turned out to be my favorite to photograph. It had some great angles to capture jumps and both skaters and riders seemed to like its flow. The final X Games medal went to Australia’s Logan Martin.

Toyota Men’s BMX Park Final

Many of the fans moved to the Armory for the Zedd concert. Getting started at 5PM may be unusual for an EDM show, but I don’t think anyone in the crowd thought about the time of day much as they danced.

Photo by Ashley Osborn / ESPN Images

This was our first time reporting from X Games, and personally my first time attending. It was a great experience. 119,000 fans showed up over the course of 4 days, representing a wide range of interest, ages and demographics. The spirit of X Games is something special and its influence on a wide range of sports that were becoming more and more mainstream is undeniable. I am already looking forward to the X Games returning for 2019

 

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