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Big Air Final Tests Limits

Deegan pulls off a new trick to take the moto X event, but jarring falls punish the riders.

August 18, 2003|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The moto X big air competition closed out the X Games at Staples Center Sunday night, showing how thrilling the event can be but serving as a grim reminder of the physical toll that thrill-seeking can take.

Brian Deegan, 28, from Temecula, energized the sold-out arena with a new trick he calls the "Mulisha Twist" and won the gold medal, but two riders took jarring spills while trying to push the limits of the sport.

Mike Jones was carted off in a wheelchair after attempting a barrel roll, and Beau Bamburg remained on the dirt floor for more than five minutes after attempting a back flip to sterilizer combination. In a sterilizer, the rider jumps over the handlebars with his legs on the front pegs and lands in front of the bike. Neither stunt had been landed before.

A spokesperson said neither athlete required hospitalization. Jones had a concussion, Bamburg had no serious injury, and each left the arena under his own power.

The jump Deegan landed had been attempt only once before, by Deegan Saturday during the freestyle competition at the Coliseum. It is a back flip with a 360 twist. Mulisha is the unofficial name of the group of riders Deegan hangs out with.

"Last week, I was kind of stumped for tricks," said Deegan, who earned a near-perfect 97.67 points for the jump. "I thought you know what, it's going to take something totally new. I started hitting the foam pit, trying the 360s and the next thing you know I was like, cool, this is it, I'm gonna try a 360-back flip."

Nate Adams took second place with 95.33 points by doing a heel-clicker back flip and landing with no hands. Kenny Bartram earned 92 points for the heel-clicker back flip that he landed off the 45-foot ramp.

The spectacular crashes during the event sucked much of the energy from the crowd. Jones, who had a ramp specially built for the event, crashed early.

Asked if he had concerns the sport was going too far, getting too dangerous, Deegan shook it off. "I don't think it's ever going to stop," Deegan said. "I'll never back down. I've got many years of landing on my head left."

The competition crashes capped a week in which five riders withdrew after practice crashes. Defending champion Mike Metzger did not compete because of a head injury incurred during an exhibition.

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