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2021 X GAMES - DAY 2

Jul 162021

Moto X contests are finally back! On day two of X Games 2021, the world elite of freestyle motocross got back together after a full year of pandemic lockdown to battle for medals and make history. The full progression of FMX was on display at Monster Energy team rider Axell Hodges’ legendary Slayground compound in Ramona, California.

In the closed-to-the-public event streamed live to audiences across the globe, the best FMX riders on the planet brought their A-game to five medal disciplines: Moto X Freestyle, Best Whip, Best Trick, QuarterPipe High Air and the new Moto X 110s event.

When the dust settled after an action-packed day at Slayground, the Monster Energy FMX team had claimed podium spots in every single competition. Thursday’s medal haul totaled five X Games medals (1 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze). Even more impressive, the team had claimed a whopping 13 overall medals – including five gold – from BMX and Moto X events by the end of day two.

Here’s how it all went down at Axell Hodges’ Slayground on day two of X Games 2021:

Axell Hodges Crushes First-Ever Moto X 110s Event on Pit Bikes

 

First things first, the motocross event at Slayground introduced a brand-new medal discipline! The format? Ski and snowboard athletes enjoy the fun Knuckle Huck event geared around creativity and innovative moves. Now Moto X riders have something similar: Pioneered by Axell Hodges and Monster BMX rider Pat Casey, Moto X 110 revolves around riders taking on a smaller-scale dirt track peppered with jumps and obstacles on pit bikes.

 

As a proof of concept, Axell Hodges commenced to put down four perfect runs on his pit bike to clinch the win in this historic first for X Games.

 

Highlights of Hodges’s four runs included cliffhangers, extended suicide no-handers and cancan landings sideways on the saddle. ‘Slay’ also flexed his freestyle skills with precise manuals across the rainbow box, perfect backflips across the center jump, and a burly transfer air that cleared the entire quarterpipe landing to earn gold in the first-ever 110s event at X Games.

 

Here’s what the Hodges had to say about winning the 110s event at X Games 2021: “We started out one year ago when we bought the property and experimented with building small jumps. Now for X Games we got a legit 110 course and to be able to win is pretty special. We spend so much time riding pit bikes and having fun. It’s a little less pressure and more fun,” said Axell Hodges.

Monster Energy’s Josh Sheehan Claims Moto X Freestyle Silver on Huge Outdoor Course   

 

It’s been a while since Moto X Freestyle was contested outdoors instead of an indoor arena. The year was 2016, to be exact. And back then, riders were challenged by an enormous course that demanded strategy and back-to-back flow as the keys to winning.

 

Guess what? X Games 2021 was even more challenging! That’s because the Slayground Freestyle course measured nearly double the size of the indoor courses used at X Games over the past years. Plus, it was decked out with competition-sized ramps, kickers, a 110-feet long super jump as well as wallrides and manual boxes for the ultimate test.

 

Monster Energy’s Josh Sheehan brought the right formula to his 75-second runs in the 20-minute jam session. Hitting the Slayground with a fluid line, the 35-year-old from Donnybrook, Australia, put down a perfect first run including a no-handed superman into a 360 over the gap, huge kiss of death flip and double backflip, as well as a big flair on the quarterpipe for 89.66 points and the silver medal.

Genki Watanabe Earns Best Whip Silver with Stylish Aerials

 

The Moto X Best Whip event is dedicated to the most stylish aerials. Also known as “Whips”, it’s all about throwing the bikes sideways in the air over a massive dirt chasm with as much style and flair as possible.

 

When it comes to style and flair, Japanese Monster Energy rider Genki Watanabe from Osaka has learned from the best. After all, he was mentored by FMX icon and Monster teammate Taka Higashino!

 

As it turns out, Watanabe has learned well. He already had two Best Whip silver medals to prove before coming to Slayground. And when all was said and done, the 31-year-old walked away with another.

 

After emerging from the eight-rider qualifier round in the top spot, Watanabe went head-to-head against Monster teammate Axell Hodges, Tyler Bereman and Florida’s Tom Parsons in the final. In effortless style, Watanabe impressed the judges with his signature turndown whips, flying through the air backwards before pulling the bike back around, to earn the silver medal. It was a beautiful sight!

Axell Hodges Clears 39 Feet, 2 Inches for QuarterPipe High Air Silver

 

For the next medal event, the focus shifted from stylish airs to HUGE airs in the Moto X QuarterPipe High Air final. The medal event was contested on Slayground’s 18-feet tall quarterpipe as the takeoff. Some viewers may remember the ramp from Axell Hodges’ mind-boggling alley-oop aerial featured in the “Slayground 3” video (with 2.7 million views and counting).

 

For the High Air competition, the format was simple: Pull the highest possible 180-degree air into the landing and earn one of three medals!

 

Rising to the challenge, Axell Hodges cleared 39 feet, 2 inches on his sixth and final run for the silver medal on his home turf. Ultimately, Colby Raha ended up taking the win with an aerial measuring 40 feet, 9 inches. He also improved on Corey Creed’s record height of 40 feet, 8 inches from X Games Norway 2019 – writing X Games history at Slayground.

Harry Bink Earns Career-First Medal in Moto X Best Trick

 

For the grand finale of X Games 2021 at Slayground, the focus shifted to creative and innovative moves in the Moto X Best Trick final. Tricks could be landed anywhere on the twelve-feature course at Slayground. But with only two runs per rider to post a top score, competitors had to choose their tricks and their obstacles wisely.

 

Finally, Monster Energy’s Harry Bink made all the right decisions. Especially keeping in mind that the 27-year-old from Caebarra, Australia had never earned a medal at an X Game event (although he came close with a fifth-place Moto X Freestyle finish at Minneapolis 2019).

 

Wasting no time, Bink posted a perfect double backflip one-handed nac over the gap for 90.33 points and the bronze medal in Best Trick. Zero X Games medals no more! Bink breaking the X Games medal spell provided a spectacular ending to a history-making day of Moto X competitions at Slayground for team Monster Energy.

 

Congrats to all the riders and thanks to Axell Hodges and crew for hosting this epic day of events!  

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