Taka Higashino flies upside down over a jump at the X-Games. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Japan's Taka Higashino wowed the Staples Center crowd with a dazzling array of tricks atop his motocross bike Thursday at the Summer X Games, and his string of strong runs was more than good enough to win gold.
Higashino, the only Japanese competitor to medal in X Games history, vaulted to the top of the leaderboard on his first run in the Moto X Freestyle final round, and no one could catch him.
He finished with an overall score of 93.33 to earn his first gold medal in X Games competition.
"This is so great," he said. "The gold medal is my dream. I worked every day for five years. I can't believe this happened."
Higashino recorded a score of 93.33 on the first run and notched a score of 92.33 on his second.
Levi Sherwood (91.66) took the silver medal and Nate Adams (88.66) took bronze.
It was Higashino's second X Games medal. He finished with a bronze for Moto Best Trick in the 2010 X Games.
Burnquist to compete
Skateboarding star Bob Burnquist, a 20-time X Games medalist, is expected to compete in the Skateboard Big Air and Vert competitions despite injuring his back on a scary fall during Big Air practice on the MegaRamp.
The 35-year-old Brazilian was taken to California Medical Center on Tuesday via ambulance and was released after X-rays were negative for broken bones and spinal cord injuries.
He returned to the X Games as a spectator Wednesday.
Burnquist did not participate in the Big Air elimination round Thursday, but he was still advanced to Friday's Big Air final, which will be held at Chick Hearn Court at 6 p.m.
Burnquist also withdrew from Saturday's Skateboard Park event but is expected to compete in the Vert, which will hold its heats and final beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Nokia Theatre.
Young competitors land 900s
Two of the youngest skateboarders at this year's X Games made history when they each landed a 900 -- two and a half midair revolutions -- in Thursday's Big Air elimination round.
Mitchie Brusco, 15, was the first in the competition's history to accomplish the feat when he landed the move on his sixth run of the day.
But moments later, Brusco was upstaged by 12-year-old Malibu native Tom Schaar, who topped Brusco's overall score and became the youngest in X Games history to ever pull it off.
Three runs later, Schaar did it again.
Schaar spent the final two runs attempting a 1080 -- three full midair rotations -- a move he became the first to accomplish in a competition when he did so in X Games Asia in March.
Jagger Eaton, 11, became the youngest to ever perform in the event. He'll join 10 others in the Big Air finals Friday.