There was no Moto X Freestyle competition in last year’s X Games in Austin. It felt weird to be at the X Games with no FMX, didn’t it?
Freestyle Motocross involves everything with the X Games and with motocross. Everything counts. With a discipline like Best Trick, there is one big jump and sometimes a rider will get lucky - like a rider will almost crash, but still make it, so the score counts. But in Freestyle, you can’t do that, you have to do everything perfectly, and you have to be controlled, and you have to be smooth. I like doing Freestyle a lot more. My dream was to get a Gold in Freestyle. I used to really look up to Nate Adams and the way he rode Freestyle. He used to be perfect in Freestyle every time. Adam Jones too. I wanted to ride like those two people and know all kinds of tricks.
I remember when you first started to come around and hang out with all the Metal Mulisha guys. You were a very good Freestyle rider and good competitor, but never really a threat to win any of the bigger, higher profile FM contests and competitions.
I was always doing 100-percent or 120-percent with my technique and that would always make me crash. I tried too much. I started calming down a little bit over the next two or three years. I would calm down and breathe and see more details while I was riding. I was starting to get better and was crashing less and thinking more.
As you know, there has been a lot of talk in recent years that the sport of Freestyle Motocross has lost some of its popularity around the world. The X Fighters don’t go all over the world now as they once did and there aren’t really that many big contests left anymore. There has also has been a lack of new star rides entering the sport. What do you think about all this? What can the sport do to rekindle some of that interest and popularity?
I’m sure it needs a little more competition. We also have to grow the next generation of riders because it’s harder to see new riders. I’d like to be able to inspire some young kids to be like, “I want to be like that! I want to ride like that!”
Do you think it can also be that you and a number of your competitors are have become so good at what you do and have advanced the sport so much, that to young riders perhaps looking to enter the sport are really intimidated by both the skill you guys possess as well as the very big risks that are required to be successful at a professional level?
(Laughter) I know. That’s what I am thinking to because I started Freestyle Motocross right about the time that Carey Hart tried the backflip (in 2000) and I was thinking, “I see the backflip and maybe I’ll try to learn to be a good Freestyle rider little by little.” It was easier to start then. Now, if I see a double flip or a big upside down, I think, “How would start in this sport now.” I don’t know… Something is needed. But a good way is Best Whip. Best Whip is easy to join because you don’t need to do too much crazy stuff. It is a good first step.
Is it very important for Freestyle Motocross that it is back in the Summer X Games this year?
Yeah, I think it is. I am so happy that Best Trick and Freestyle MX is back in. This is definitely good because everybody dreams about being in the X Games. I really appreciate it that we are back at the X Games.
Taka, what’s your goal for Summer X? What’s going to make you happy after all is said and done come Sunday night?
I just want to get a Medal. A Medal for sure. I’m just going to try and do my best and if I can get top three, then I will be smiling.