From there, the level of competition only intensified. X Games highest Step Up record holder Ronnie Renner found himself eliminated at 41 feet as McNeil climbed into the final three. With the bar posted at 43 feet, Libor Podmol and Colby Raha both missed their attempts, leaving the final word to McNeil. Known to thrive under pressure, the 26-year-old from Yarrawonga, Australia, charged full-throttle and cleared the 43-foot bar on his first attempt, claiming gold and a historic Moto X Step Up gold medal three-peat.
“I wanted to come here and get the three-peat – and I just did it! I’m so stoked! This is the best day ever,” said McNeil after winning gold in Minneapolis today.
While the win brought McNeil’s X Games count to 10 medals, he was far from done for the day. Energy levels were high as McNeil and a field of top motocross riders stepped to the Moto X Best Whip Final. In an eight-minute jam session, riders attempted the most contorted “Whip” aerials – throwing their bike sideways in the air – over the massive dirt chasm.
The Whip is a staple move in motocross, but each world-class rider masters his own unique style. Last night’s Moto X High Air winner and Hodges impressed the judges with a turn-up style Whip, turning the bike entirely backwards in mid-air, only to reverse for a safe landing at the last possible moment for 90.33 points and the bronze medal. Japanese style icon Watanabe blasted a fully contorted turndown-style whip for 91.33 for a silver finish. And still running high on adrenalin from today’s Step Up win, McNeil landed a seat-bounce Whip – practically flying upside down – with a one-foot kick out for 91.66 points and the win.
“Winning my sixth gold medal is amazing, thank you to all the fans for coming out and supporting me today,” said McNeil on winning Best Whip gold today.
Rounding out a spectacular performance for Monster Energy’s motocross team, Strong went blow-for-blow with the world elite of freestyle riders in Best Trick. Charging the jump at maximum speed, Strong pulled a highly technical no-handed front flip for 93.00 points that shut down the competition. After taking silver in last night’s FMX Final, Strong made history as the only motocross rider in X Games history to claim four gold medals in Best Trick.
“Everyone out here puts in so much work just to be here,” said Strong. Competing against these guys is an honor in itself and getting a gold medal is just amazing.
Speaking of medals, the weekend in the Twin Cities helped Monster riders significantly boost their medal counts. Today’s double gold medal strike increased McNeil’s record to 11 medals, including six gold medals. His teammate Strong now boasts four gold and three silver medals after a standout performance. And after claiming gold in Moto X High Air and bronze in Best Whip, Hodges now has one gold, two silver and one bronze medals under his belt in his third year at X Games.