Matt Buyten clears 37 feet to win the Moto X step up final at X Games 17 on Thursday. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
For a moment, after he successfully jumped over a 37-foot high bar with his dirt bike, Matt Buyten held his breath, just like the Staples Center crowd looking on.
It was the highest Buyten or anyone else had ever been in the Moto X Step Up Final event, essentially high jump on dirt bikes.
It marked a new world record.
"That was scary," he said after his jump, which won him his second straight gold medal in the event.
"That wasn't safe. It was fun after I landed and realized what the hell happened."
The previous record for the event was 35 feet, set by Tommy Clowers in the 2000 X Games in San Francisco.
The event featured six riders. Each rider lined up 30 feet from a near-vertical wall of dirt and tried to clear a horizontal bar positioned between two vertical bars. They each had two tries to clear the bar before being eliminated.
The finals came down to Buyten and Ronnie Renner, the same finals matchup as last year.
Renner was unable to jump over the 37-foot bar on two tries, while Buyten nailed it on his first.
"I was coming in hurting and my confidence was low," Buyten said, adding that he recently broke a bone in his wrist and sprained an ankle. "I was a month off the bike and just jumped on it and did it."
There are no silver or bronze medals in the event.