Between June 28 and July 1, over 200 top-tier extreme athletes will flock to Los Angeles for the X Games. Contestants at the stunt-rich, wipe-out-riddled event reminiscent of a daredevil’s ball compete to win medals and money. In their efforts, they bust new moves and – on a good day – records. Here is some intel on some elite extreme athletes who have achieved heroic X Games firsts on and off the mega-ramp.
Photo Credit: pierrepierre1 / Flickr.com
Longest Motocross Dirt-To-Dirt Backflip / Jeremy Stenberg and Nate Adams
The longest motocross dirt-to-dirt backflip measures 100 feet – about the length of a professional basketball court.
The phenomenal flip was achieved by two Californian extreme sports enthusiasts, Jeremy Stenberg and Nate Adams, during the Moto X Freestyle Finals at 2005’s X Games 11.
Odd fact: Stenberg is nicknamed Twitch because he suffers from the brain disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, which he was diagnosed with at eight years old. Stenberg began riding motorbikes long before, at the tender age of two, urged by his father who wanted to spend more time with his son and keep him out of their neighborhood.
Jeremy Stenberg never looked back, becoming the Adrenalist we know today.
Fellow motocross daredevil Nate Adams, who achieved the same record dirt-to-dirt backflip distance at X Games 11 and has an equally impressive extreme sports resume. Winning the gold more often than not.
Photo Credit: cameronparkins / Flickr.com
Oldest X Games Medalist / Angelika Casteneda
The X Games is dominated by Adrenalist in their prime, but there’s no rule saying you must be young. The record for the oldest X Games medallist is held by Californian phenomenon Angelika Casteneda. Casteneda was 53 when she got a gold medal in 1996 in the short-lived, high-endurance X-Venture adventure race, which featured 15 three-person co-ed teams tasked with travelling up to 500 miles.
Casteneda summited rock faces, hiked through thorny scrub and swam through swamps across New England. Finally, Casteneda completed the last 10-mile bike ride over rough, rocky terrain despite the handicap of an injured knee.
Besides adventure racing, the veteran wild child starred in a string of adventure documentaries in which she swam with hammerhead sharks and dove over 300 feet. Casteneda also worked as a stunt double for Farrah Fawcett in the 1979 feature film “Sunburn.”
Youngest X Games Athlete / Nyjah Huston
The youngest ever X Games athlete, Nyjah Huston was born in 1994. When he debuted at the games in 2006, competing in the men’s skateboard street contest, Huston was just under 12 years old. Five years later, Huston won skateboard street gold, edging Brazilian skater Luan Oliveira and reigning champion Ryan Sheckler to top the podium.
Raised vegan by his parents from birth, Huston started skating when he was just 2 and kept rolling.
Huston, who lopped off his signature dreadlocks in June 2011, lives to skateboard. According to his bio, he is the only skater ever to do a “backside 270 ‘nosebluntslide’” - debatably one of the toughest skateboarding tricks - on a rail in a contest.
Photo Credit: Podknox / Flickr.com
Longest 360 On A BMX bike / Mike Escamilla
In 2005, Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla performed a 50-foot, 6-inch, one-handed 360 off the mega-ramp: a world record. Earlier, Escamilla also set the world record for the longest backflip, reverse-leaping 62 feet, 2 inches.
Escamilla grew up in La Habra in Orange County, California. Escamilla started riding BMX bikes in 1990 at age 11, inspired by skating legend Tony Hawk.
Escamilla evolved into a daredevil who has performed some of the boldest BMX stunts ever seen. In 2011, he featured in Strangers in Danger: a show that followed him taking Zack “Catfish” Yankush around the world in search of the most extreme challenges. Among other exploits, they deactivated land mines and drank the blood of freshly killed snakes.
Escamilla’s extreme BMX highlights include backflipping over a helicopter with its rotors running, biking through California’s Snow Summit terrain park in the dead of winter, and riding a mini-ramp where he and the ramps were ablaze.
First Amputee Gold Medalist / Chris Ridgway
Astride a Suzuki, Californian athlete Chris Ridgway won gold in the adaptive Moto X class in 2009, making him the first amputee to win a summer X Games gold medal.
Ridgway competes wearing a prosthetic left leg largely the result of a 1995 practice run crash sparked by a motorbike malfunction. Ridgway survived with both legs but languished in perpetual pain sharpened by an off-road hot rod crash. So, defying doctors’ orders, in 2002 he had his bad leg amputated.
Now, Ridgway competes in that contest designed for “adaptive athletes”, the Extremity Games, where he has won several medals. Meantime, Ridgway operates as a kind of impromptu motivational speaker.
Fastest 100 meters On A Skateboard By A Dog / Tillman the English bulldog
Tillman the extremely eccentric English bulldog oozes classic bulldog spirit that makes him good for much more than a run round the park. In 2009, Tillman skateboarded across a flat 100-meter stretch of car park. Propelled by powerful thrusts of his stubby legs, despite veering off course he completed his roll in 19.6 seconds.
That was fast: a new world record. You can see why one source in an X Games clip showing Tillman’s triumph describes him as “greased lightning”. Move over, Tony Hawk.
Tillman also holds the world record as the fastest skateboarding dog, period. According to Tillman’s owner, Ron Davis, he is hooked on adrenaline. Tillman’s extreme addictions include surfing and “skimboarding,” gliding across the water’s surface on a small finless version of a surfboard.
At home, tenacious Tillman hones his skating skills almost every day. He is named after the late NFL star, U.S. Army Ranger and San Jose native Pat Tillman.