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Fairplex Is Going to Extremes Now

Though the X Games is the sport's signature event, the two-day LG Action Sports Championships in Pomona has its rewards.

September 30, 2005|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

The athletes, events and prize money are nearly identical, yet the third annual LG Action Sports Championships has found that, in the world of extreme sports, the X Games reign supreme.

Returning to the Pomona Fairplex today, the two-day event -- which incorporates its signature competition, the World Championships of FMX, along with skateboard, BMX and Inline Vert contests -- faces obstacles not associated with the X Games.

Whereas the X Games are held in the dead of summer, these championships compete for attention with the final week of Major League Baseball, the NFL, and high school and college football.

"As far as timing, it works out good for the riders," said BMX participant John Parker, who has competed in both events. "People who are into action sports know you can have this type of event any time of the year."

Although the championships will be broadcast on CBS in late November, the event lacks the backing of a large corporation, such as the X Games' relationship with ESPN. It also is held at a smaller and lesser-known venue; the X Games used Staples Center and the Home Depot Center.

"Whether you put 15,000 people indoors at Staples Center or 12,000 outside at the Fairplex, I don't think there's much of a difference," said Rick Bratman, president of ASA Events, the company producing the championships.

According to organizers and athletes, some of the discrepancies allow the championships to be a better venue than the X Games.

"LG is a little more laid back," Parker said. "It seems like it's more about riding, while the X Games is more of a production."

And there is always the $100,000 in prize money, the richest purse in FMX competitions.

"LG is a lot smaller, but a good contest because you have a good course," said Nate Adams, two-time defending FMX champion. "Plus there's a huge purse."

Other participants in the FMX contest include Mike Metzger, a pioneer in the sport, and Jeremy Stenberg, who has twice finished second to Adams. The championship is also the only of its kind that uses a qualification criterion in choosing its competitors.

Adams said he could envision the event evolving.

"If they keep doing it and get a company to back it, it could one day become a live event just like the X Games is," Adams said.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Action sports

* What: LG Action Sports Championships, featuring season-ending championships in skateboarding, BMX racing, freestyle motocross and inline skating.

* When: Today and Saturday.

* Where: Fairplex, Pomona.

* Finals: Today, Skateboard vert; Saturday, BMX Vert Finals, FMX Championships, Inline Vert.

* Tickets: FMX Championships, $15-17.50; all other events are free with admission to the L.A. County Fair.

* Parking: $8.

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