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Adams Unseats Prudent Pastrana

August 09, 2004|Pete Thomas | Times Staff Writer

For Travis Pastrana, and for thousands of expecting fans at the Home Depot Center, there was no double back flip.

Thankfully, perhaps.

And for Pastrana, who had come into the X Games' Moto X Freestyle event undefeated and with four gold medals -- and who for weeks had talked about trying the potentially disastrous maneuver -- there was no fifth.

Instead, the smooth-riding and soft-talking Nate Adams, who has developed a friendly rivalry with the previously unbeatable Pastrana, got the gold. And Pastrana got to live another day. There was that kind of intensity in the atmosphere Sunday, according to some.

"I thought he would attempt a double but I was hoping he wouldn't," said Adams, 20, who posted a score of 93.80 on his first of two runs in front of 27,325, most of them partial to Pastrana, always a crowd favorite because he's so electrifying and unpredictable. "His head wasn't in the right spot today and that's not something you want to mess with."

On Saturday night, during qualifying, Pastrana crash-landed while trying a back flip with a 360-degree twist on his second of two runs. He laid in a heap for 20 seconds before getting up and walking slowly away with a severely bruised face and slight concussion. His score was still in the top five, and enabled him to advance to the finals. The medical staff gave him clearance to do so.

Starting fourth in a field of five, he took the lead after his first run with a score of 90.60, with moves that included back flips with no-handed landings, one with a leg extension over the handle bars and a heel-click before finding the seat just upon landing, and hand stands with full leg extensions on his handle bars.

But Adams, who like Pastrana has been practicing with the aid of a foam pit, followed that with many of the same moves, performed much more smoothly, and threw in a back-flip 360 to earn a score of 93.80.

That raised expectations that a double back flip -- which has never been performed in competition -- was the only way Pastrana could defeat Adams.

The crowd grew silent as Pastrana approached every jump, and cheered his every landing. But the flashy young man who has never been known for being conservative -- in 1999, after winning his first X Games gold at 15, he jumped his bike off the pier into San Francisco Bay -- was as conservative as he could be while still posting a 92.00.

There was no double back flip. Nor was there a 360. Pastrana, 20, passed the X Games torch to Adams with a smile and pat on the back, and afterward sounded like someone who may be getting wiser with age.

"More than likely you would have seen a double, and probably another 360, but I was seeing double out there," he said with a smile while signing autographs in the pits, a black eye and facial bruises clearly visible. "For a double you need everything you have, and with my equilibrium off it was just not a good idea.

"Yes, I'm disappointed," he said after finishing second, ahead of bronze medalist Adam Jones. "I would have loved to do the double, but staying alive was more important to me today. I'm just happy to be here."

And yes, he agreed with a nod, there's always tomorrow.

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