This is the third consecutive year the X Games have come to Minneapolis, and maybe you think you’re an x-pert by now. Been there. Done that. Got the limited-edition skate deck.
But the thing about extreme sports is that no two events are alike. “With action sports, you never know what’s gonna happen,” host Jack Mitrani says. Someone is always going for more air, or trying to complete a first-ever trick, or making history with a record-smashing number of medals.
Plus, like... Wu-Tang Clan’s gonna be there.
“From a fan’s perspective, there’s so much more than just the competition... it’s like Coachella meets a sporting event,” Mitrani says. (It ain’t just Wu-Tang—Diplo, Incubus, P.O.S, SWMRS, Chevy Metal, and the Blind Shake will all descend upon the Armory this weekend.) “For anybody who has a short attention span—X Games is it,” adds BMX rider Mykel Larrin.
1. The Young Guns
Remember what a big deal it was when Tony Hawk landed the first 900—among the most technically tough skateboarding tricks there is—at the X Games in 1999?
Gui Khury landed a 900 at 8 years old.
Now at the wizened old age of 10, the Brazilian boarder is competing in skateboard vert at his first X Games. And he’s not the only 10-year-old at the games this year; you can catch Cocona Hiraki tearing it up in women’s skateboard park. “These are the youngest kids to ever drop in at an X Games, and they’re not only young, they’re really good—they have a chance of medaling,” Mitrani says.
Women’s park is also where you’ll get to see Misugu Okamoto. “If I had to put my money on it, I think this 13-year-old Japanese up-and-comer—I have a feeling she’s gonna win,” Mitrani says. “You could put her in the men’s competitions, and she’d hold her ground.”
2. The Big Stuff
Mitrani is the first to admit that action sports can be hard for the less extreme among us to follow—terms like touchdown and home run are for more familiar to the average fan than nightmare flip and fakie 720.
Enter Moto X Quarter Pipe High Air. “This one... it’s just who can go the highest,” Mitrani says. “And they go so high.”
“They literally just have a launch quarter pipe, and they just go to the moon,” Larrin adds. “If you’ve never seen action sports, something like the big air moto comp is insane. You’re like... dude, that’s a motorcycle, and it’s suspended in the air.”
And if that kind of high-flying daredevilry gets your engine running, there’s also skateboard big air. Mitchie Brusco will likely again attempt a backside 1260—that’s four full rotations after rocketing up the quarterpipe—something he almost nailed at the X Games in Shanghai earlier this year.
3. The Bike Stuff
The cool thing about BMX street and BMX park is that those courses change every year, which means a totally different set of tricks that plays to different riders’ strengths. You get to see Logan Martin—a very technical rider who stuffs as many tricks as he can into a run (like, we’re talking 50 in a minute). On the other hand, there’s the infinitely adaptable Dennis Enarson. “Logan can be a computer, just logging data in a run—whereas Dennis is more like, ‘I’ve got a canvas, I’m gonna just use this paintbrush and put some color here, put some color there.’”
4. The All-Time Greats
You don’t get to be the highest-paid skateboarder in the world for nothing. Nyjah Huston has obtained absolute legend status since he started competing in 2004, and Mitrani calls him the Michael Jordan of skateboarding: “The opportunity to watch him skateboard anywhere in the world is amazing.” He’ll be going for his 11th X Games gold in skateboard street this year—to put it in terms of Tony Hawk, he just passed his record. “Nyjah’s a star to come and see.”
5. The Action Village
Larrin says the absolute number-one thing he’d recommend to fans is checking out the interactive Action Village—when it comes to a tangible experience, you can’t beat it. This is an actual course that lets you hop on a vert ramp or bring your bike out to shred some dirt.
“That might be the one catalyst for a kid that’s 8 years old who just gets hooked on it,” Larrin says. “Seeing the paint on the bottom of the course with the X Games Minneapolis logo on it, the sticker tape, the sound of the wheels on the ramp—all those senses get wrapped in this neat little package that’ll make that kid want to be an athlete.”