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Mirra Takes His Place in X Games History

His win in the bike stunt vert event gives him 12 gold medals and 17 medals overall.

August 07, 2004|Pete Thomas | Times Staff Writer

With a series of aerial maneuvers that included handlebar spins, a back flip and numerous tailwhips, or bike twirls, Dave Mirra soared into X Games history on Friday night, becoming its most decorated athlete with 17 medals, 12 of them gold.

His gold-medal performance in the bike stunt vert competition broke a tie he had held with skateboarder Tony Hawk, who is not competing this year.

"I'm psyched just to be walking away standing," the 30-year-old Mirra said, on a night in which several riders took hard spills.

Mirra was given a first-run score of 93.66 and the event was shortened from three runs to two when the previous event, the Moto X Step Up, ran 45 minutes long. Riders were judged by their best single run.

While Simon Tabron and Kevin Robinson -- who finished second and third, respectively -- weren't complaining, defending champion Jamie Bestwick was incensed after his sixth-place showing.

"For me, it seemed anti-climactic to go on after that," Bestwick, who dethroned Mirra when he took the gold in 2003, said of the Moto X Step Up, won in dramatic fashion by Jeremy McGrath.

"People were walking away in the stands."

Bestwick, who seemed out of sorts from the outset, later said he felt "like Lance Armstrong snapping a chain 15 times and coming in on a kid's scooter across the finish line."

While Friday's announced arena crowd of 23,280 had thinned considerably by the time the vert competition got underway, it had no effect on Mirra. With so strong a first run already in hand, he drew even louder cheers on his second run when he performed a first for him: a double-flare tailwhip, which, in essence, involved spinning the bike beneath his airborne body and flaring his body to either side.

That run scored 89.33, which would have been good enough for fourth place.

Chad Kagy was the fourth-place finisher with a score of 88.00 and he considered that as good as gold. It was his first big event since suffering a broken neck while attempting a double backflip at the Gravity Games last fall.

"Double backflips have been eliminated from my trick list for the rest of my life," he assured and added, "The doctor said either of two things will happen if I crash the same way again: I'll be completely paralyzed or dead."

Friday night's hardest spill was by Jay Miron, who hit the rail at the top of the ramp while descending after a trick, and fell to the bottom in a heap. He suffered a bruised hip and sore ribs.

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