On a hot sunny day in Los Angeles, the flatland riders all make it to the finals

Photo Galleries:  Flat 1 - Flat 2 - Flat 3 - Flat 4

That's right, no qualifiers this year for the riders, it's just two sets of runs at 90 seconds each, just like the finals every year and just the way it should be.  Stephan started things off with a bang with what looked like just a couple of minor sketches, but his bomb tricks.  It seems like flatland riders are coming out with more and more bomb tricks every contest which just raises the level beyond belief for all the riders.

Hiro didn't have his best run ever, but Travis Collier follows up with a few touches right away.  The riders have been complaining all weekend about how poor the surface is here.  No, nothing unusual really, just the same old wavy ground with a few bumps thrown in for good measure.  Travis busts out a really nice halfpacker combo with a barflip out which gets some people pumped up, but he just can't seem to shake the nerves combined with the bad ground to put up the solid run.  Thankfully it's not all or nothing this year and he has a second chance to put things together and redeem himself.  The best run is the only one that counts.

The next rider up, Chad Johnston has been out all weekend in the 90 plus degree weather practicing his ass off.  Chad is by far the oldest flatlander to make it into the X-Games at about 35 years old.  He is not representing just the old guys, but those guys that make videos for fun as well,  Chad's In-Trik-At series of videos has been popular for years.  Chad's style seems to be based heavily on the nose wheelie but he steps things up by doing it all without brakes.  This includes pedal hang-5's and nose wheelies as well as nose wheelies on the rear pegs.  He uses the pedals more than the front pegs on stuff and throws down a solid rope-a-roni on the pedals... that is he rides IN standing on the pedals...  don't ask me how.

Every year I like to remind people to try to ignore the typos here as I am typing this live as the tricks are going down.  I also always run the risk of being kicked out of my seating position which is well within the boundaries of where I am allowed to sit... oh well, we will see what happens.

Heck, they are even keeping score as things are going on, I haven't been paying attention because what really matters is the final standings and the fun the guys have for the weekend...  York I'm not sure how much fun he has had, but as one of the most consistent riders ever, he raises the bar and gives Ares good representation.  He starts things off, brakeless as always, with some front wheel spinning his hang fives and steamrollers all get meshed together with a lot of tomahawk variations.  Ninety seconds later he has one touch as he tries to go into a no-handed wheelchair spin.  ONE touch...  the bar is raised.

Michael Sommer is making his premiere this year at the X-Games after a outstanding performance at the CFB a few weeks ago.  His style doesn't seem to be affected almost at all by the ground.  Another rider with lots of front wheel combos, almost always spinning and rolling.  Halfpackers stepped over to other tricks with a crazy jump to the back pegs to ride out...  360 barflip to pedal steamroller, with a quick barflip to halfhiker out.  He finished things up with a cliffhanger 180 barflipped to a spinning cliffhanger.  There were a couple of touches in his run, but not really much less than anyone else.  He adds a fresh face, and therefore a fresh style to the entire event.

Perhaps one of the biggest names that people have anticipated at the Games was the addition of Jessie Puente to the roster.  We haven't seen him in a contest in years really, but there he is, riding for KHE and flowing with originality.  A quick time machine to start things off and then some rear wheel turbines to keep things going.  He passes the bike behind his back in a few stubble ducks while turbinging the bike, his stuff just doesn't make sense.  His root of the turbine combined with a lot of rear wheel stuff has got to put the judges into a different midn set...  He simple refuses to fit the mold, and after ninety seconds were up, it didnnt look like he gave in to the force of gravity long enough to put his foot down once.  This may be the run of the day, not his hardest stuff, but by far more original than almost any other rider.  No, not really, but definitely different than eveyrone else, and it doesn't seem like the judges truly appreciate it all.

Aaron Behnke made the cut this year at the Latin American X-Games and has a styale that most of us know... slow, original tricks, not terribly long links, but usually combined in new ways.  Some love this style, some don't, but there can be no doubt that his stuff is hard.  The problem is that he just doesn't seem to be able to hold it all together for his first fun and gets a plague of touch downs that will hold him back, he must step things up with consistency if he wants to win.

Now, don't think that flatland is all about touches and falls...  But really, with this many riders at such a high level, you have to look at touches and falls as one of the top scores.  This next rider has been blowing up for the last few years and has to be one of the favorites going in.  Viki Gomez didn't spend much time practicing in the last few days, but his run is something else.  Riding with Martti over the last year has influenced his style somewhat and he mixes trick up with pedal steamrollers and tomahwaks  barflpped to halfpackers and back again.  No, it doesn't make sense to me either.  Or the judges as they push him into first.

Ryoji Yammamoto is the last rider in the first heat and then they will go through every rider again.  Yammer won the European X-Games and simply kicks ass when you watch him.  His halfpackers bar spun into a steamroller... huh?  He turbines steamrollers but then brings the frame around two or three times as he is spinning backwards to frwards and back again.  His style os fast and his spinning of the frame and the bike in conjunction, but in different directions sets him apart.  Not the same old front wheel bar flippity crap, no, just something fun to watch.  Fun for me, fun for the judges, and hard as hell... first place leader.

Cerra starts up again and seems like he wants to raise the level of his riding some.  a no-footedwheelchair across the floor and vsome variations out.  He then comes back with a turbined wheelchair to a no footed tomahwak and a clean ride out.  He sets up and throws the steamroller to barflikp cross footed pedal steamroller.  It takes acouple of tries and he never quite hits it right.  He knows it's now what he wanted to do, and he won't be feeling the love from the judges on this one.

Hiroyo Morisake is up again with a ghetto flip to upside down wheelie and a clean ride out.  Besides Yammer his stuff is probably the hardest of all the Japanese guys, and hie may also be in the position of being the most sketch of the riders that qualified from Japan.  Yet, he works both wheels of the bike and his inwards scuffing circle k's on the pedal.. is that right?  Either way, it was a huge jump from his first run and leaves him with a better score than before.

Travis rolls onto the stage and does a quick 180 rollback witha  smoothie out...  He loves to ride and ahve fun.  Then the halfpacker jumped around the a steamroller and a few turbines and a clean ride out...  This may be his run.  Inside turbined hang-5 with both feet on the same side of the frame he lets the bike frame go around and catches it ina halfpacker.  No luck, it just isn't going to be his day but he will probably be the rider who had the most fun out here today.

Chad comes out again with a rear peg hang 5 to a megaspin out.  His music is techno and dark... slow and solid stuff, but his riding just doesn't match.  He can't keep his tricks that he has totally dialed solid enough to win.  An inward pedal hang-5 turbined to kick back into forward hang-5 on the pedal.  It's fun stuff, but while crazy hard, he can't link it up and combo it up enough to make the judges happy.  Who cares?  He should be happy and keep riding for the love of it all.

York is out again with a couple of jugglers to start things off, he then pulls it in to a hip pack and then around out to a steamroller.  He is working the entire front wheel in every direction from both sides and nails his first combo, which just ate up half his time.  He follows through with more front wheel combos and gets a good wheelchair spin going, but he can't hold on for a flawless run, and it may be the difference for him.  Either you have crazy hard tricks, or you have incredible consistency.  If you aren't going to step up the difficulty, you better not touch, and for York, this wasn't stepped up to the level he could have taken it to, or to what some other riders have been doing, so he will not do incredibly well, but he will do well.

Michael Sommer is up again with a cross footed steamroller which he jumps around and barflips to a regular steamroller.  He keeps working the front wheel in different ways, but he isn't throwing down the bomb.  He is holding back hoping for some consistency, but the feet still come down a few times and at the end of the day he will go home with nothing better than third place - with some of the best still to come.

Jessie is up again and this time he wants to step things up with a beautiful airwalk to start things off, you know, a inward no-footed circle K on the END of the bars which he kicks both directions.  Solid!  He takes a tme machine up and then rides out... can't do that at this event.  Jessie is either nervous or not ready, but now he goes into a multiple turbined backpacker to finish things off... he doesn't pull it and he will probably stick with his first run score.

Behnke goes out with another stylishly slow run.  He blows up right away though which has got to play with his head.  A couple of touches and then a not-pulled the way he wanted to trick.  He pulls things together and puts a good rear wheel link up and a solid front wheel combo.  It still cost him several touches though and may not move him around much with scoring.

Style, Viki just oozes style, that's all there is to it, his tricks are dope, his flair is big, and when he is on, he can bring down the best in the world.  When he is on.  Steamroller to cross handed steamroller tailwhipped around...  to nothing.  He can't finish the tricks that he is starting.  a cross ahnded steam to pedal steam to fork glide to pedal steam.  He's on and off the pedals so quick it's hard to follow.  But, this wasn't his first run and he had a few to many touches, it doesn't change his spot at second place, which is not a bad place to be if you gotta be somewhere.

Yammer is out again and works the epdal with some steamrollers, turbined of course, to the front wheel and a clean ride out.  He sketches his next trcick and then drops the bike.  A steamroller barflipped to a halfpacker also results in the bike going down.  He begins his seires of spinning on the front wheel with the frame going one way as he spins the other way.  It takes two tries and he sketches a little on the ride out, so he'll probably stick with his first run.  Yeah, he's probably not complaining about that - first.

There is about five minutes between heats which gives the other group of ten a chance to warm up.  It's hard to say how they determine which riders are in which heat, but with Nate Penonzek, Matt Wilhelm, Martti Kuoppa, Trevor Meyer, and Simon O'Brien in this second round... you gotta think that Yammer is not going to manage to hold onto that first place position for much longer.

Marcos de Jesus made the cut again this year and starts it off with an upside down megaspin on the pedals that he combined into.  He rides fast...  very fast and loses it more often than any other rider out there.  I can't imagine a day when he is going to win a contest like this, but I also have very few riders that are more fun to watch do stuff just for the sheer speed and style that he has.  Lots of back wheel stuff, lots of front wheel stuff, and lots of speed.

Manuel Prado was amateur last year... well that is the class he competed in anyway.  This year he's at the X-Games and his solid style with really hard tricks may be enough.  He works the back wheel with about every dump truck variation you can imagine including stepping it up to the pedal and pulling it around back into gerators and stubble ducks for a ride out.  A one minute combo hit flawless is just the way you want to start things.  A quick hitchhiker, not pulled like he wanted into a blender, but he does it agian, and this time he does it the way he wanted to.. kind of.  No, his feet never touched the ground, but the run wasn't flawless either.

Did you know that Matt Wilhelm can spin on a bike?  Yeah, like no other - every trick is a tornado spin it seems like, but he also mixes it up this year with some halfpacker combos... kind of halfpacker pinky squeak things, they are dope.  He goes into a Karl cruiser to bunnyhop megaspin and then bunnyhop to the front wheel again and finishes it with a no-handed spinning Karl cruiser.  Now he steps up to his patented blender bike flip to the pegs, then the pedals with a upside down megaspin, but sketches when he tries to take his hands off while standing on the pedals.  Just one touch at the very end, but solid nonetheless.

Simon O'Brien could win this, well, anyone could win this, but Simon won two huge events this year and has really, really hard stuff.  He starts off with a front wheel combo that includes a backwards wheelchair and links that just shouldn't be possible.  Clean.  Now a Karl cruiser to backwards halfpacker turned to a steamroller and then intoa  wheelchair and around the bars to out.  He steps up to ablender and sketches out.  He does it agian, and this time fips the bike similar to wilhelm and gets to the pedals where he spin them halfway and switches feet on the pedals.  No, if he isn't in first place after that run, the judges have been smoking something a little different than what they should be. 

Terry starts off with a barflip to hithchiker and takes that through the paces for a long first combo.  He follows up with a steamroller jumped to the pedals and jumped back to the pegs.  Not as clean as he wants, but then comboed up some yet he sketches.  He does a steamroller then barflip jumps out to a hitchhiekr.  He begins working his way around the front wheel and comes out clean.  Terry finishes up with a pedal time machine with a few cranks in for good measure - not quite blenders, but dope.

Penonzek is the best in the world...  if you look at contest results.  But he may truly be that.  His style is all about flow... one trick to the next turbining on the rear wheel or the front.  His first run included a lot of tear wheel work where he sun the bike under him no less than two or three times per combo.  He doesn't just get the bike under him he steps it up to the pedal and turbines things forward and backwards while standing up there.  He stubbvele ducks the bike INTO upside down wheelies instead of using it to ride out, he uses it as a ride in.  Like no other, he is about flow and it shows.

Trevor Meyer is out to regain his title and with a run back with Giant (formerly GT) he may be able to do it.  The machines, the robot, the master.  He may be Yoda for all I know, but when he rides, he has some power that others just can't match.  A wheelie straight up into a pedal death truck into a blender stepped through toa a pedalling stick bitch.  Dude, he's tall.  He always seems to have some new stuff every year and it's hard to tell from year to year what is new and what tricks he has shown before.  A couple of sketches though in his first run may hold him back.  No, flawless just doesn't seem to be this year.

Dolan is eternal...  That is, if he doesn't win a contest he usually isn't far behind the guy who did win.  His tricks are hard and evenwhen he isn't perfect, he isn't bad either.  A pedal rope-a-roni a pedal inward hang 5 froma  whioplasg combined into a hitchhiekr.  He sketched a little, but it is all really, really hard stuff.  the nose wheelies he does includes him cranking the pedals backwards as he goes and this year he is doing some different pinky squeak stuff where he does some jumps around the bars (not barflips) and kicks the front wheel in both directions to keep things interesting. 

Steingrabber is such a nice guy, except this year the ground is just pissing him off.  Thatl, of course has no impact on his actual run which includes halfpacker whips and different combos up and around the bike and front wheel.  A lotof halfpackers this year are marking his style.  But, his first run wasn't what he wanted.  He will be back again in a few minutes.

Martti is out for his first run on the new KGB frame, he starts off with typical Martti style,  Halfpacker kick flipped to halfpacker, but he starts to sketch.  If you were here you would know that he kept practice to a minimum and it may not payoff for him at this event.  A solid kickflipped Karl cruiser and combines up into a clean ride out.  A cross footed hiker didn't make the kick flip inot a hitchiker so he tries it again.  This time he lands sideways on the wheel... doesn't touch... but then completely falls on his ass trying to get out.  Not even close after the first run.  One more to go.

Marcos is up again and works his first upside down megapsin combo at speed flawlessly.    He takes an inward scuffing tomahawk into his next trick but can't pull it clean.  Now a turbined death truck attempt gone wrong.  He hits the ground pretty hard and fast but gets up to try again and pulls it super solid clean.  He has those so dialed in!He tries a back yard to whoppper - yes, you read that correctly, he coasts a high speed backyard with both feet on the peg and turbines it through a circle.  On the turbine, he tries a whopper out.

Manuel is up for flawless on his second run.  The same first combo on the rear wheel working it every which way.  He pulls it clean and comes back with the juggler to a time machine on the epdals pulled clean.  It's on now as he has his first two links done with flawless.  He flips the bike upside down and gets into a pedal stick bitch clean He is so solid it's scary.  Three combos of tricks, 2/3 on the rear wheel, and zero touches.  

Matt is up to raise the bar and he starts off with a sketched halfpacker whips combo.  The trick is cool but he sometimes gets a little greedy with it.  Once again, front wheel to rear wheel to front wheel to no handed Karl cruiser, so is the blender flip going to happen?  This time he touches on the jump over and just can't hold onto it.  Just not his year for the flawless run and he doesn't show off either his no-handed upside down pedalling time machine or the millenium (forward time machine jump over to stick bitch).

O'Brien does tricks so hard...  The jump over to backwards halfpacker is insane, and so easy it seems for him.  He's back up into a blender staright to the pedal kick flip to other pedal and down and out clean.  Now a backwards halfpacker kickflip to backward halfpacker and then kicked forward to a ride out.  The hardest trick in the world right now maybe and he does it in a contest.  He finishes it up with a boomerang to hang 5on the pedal.

Terry barflips to hitchi8ker again and then works the front wheel with pinky squeakes, jumping the bars and side squeaks.  Maybe not the hardset stuff, but fast and solid.    The pedal steamroller jump once again didn't go the way he wanted it to but his links and combos to the ride out went so solid he's gotta be happy.  He goes through with a wheelchair to a totally sketched jump over to barflip witchhiker.  He tries again and sketches it again, but manages not to touch right away.

Nate has got to be at least a little nervous, but maybe he just never feels that way.  He sure doesn't ride like he ever gets nervous.  The rear wheel is his love and he just rolled through a combo so smooth glass was jealous.  A cross footed ujpside down spinning megaspin... coasting... out of a gerator it all is so weird.  He keeps working only one wheel of the bike and then when the buzzer sounds he is off the contest floor and over the fence before the buzzer is even off.

Trevor is up again on the front wheel with a cross footed steamroller to spinning cross footed hitchhiker he comes backout and does a boomerang over the frame and back into a steamroller, it's a huge jump and hekeeps working the front wheel until the ride out where he does a quick decade and calls it a trick.  Now he pedals back up into a death truck which he takes into a blender nice a smooth   This time it goes through to the pedalling stick bitch and then to the peg and out.  The buzzer sounds flawless to him.

Not to be outdone Phil starts out on the rear wheel with a pedalling rope a roni.  He steps it up and keeps it going across the entire course and then pulls it up to the hang-5 on the pedals and keeps linking things up until he covered the entire course.  A nose wheele doesn't give him love though as he goes forward over the bars and has his only touch of the run.  Otherwise solid for his final run.

Steingrabber starts on the rear wheel with a stubble duck to undertaker type job.  It's all brakeless and he never touches the trie, original linkup for him.  He starts working the rear wheel but sketches a little.  He then takes a backpacker to cross footed hiker and rides out clean.  He turbines a megapin and throws the decade ride out, brakeless people!  His final combo which he has been working on all day just didn't happen.  That's a backpacker pulled up and whipped into a halfpacker with some front wheel work and another backpacker out.

Martti is not going to do it this year as he misses his first trick.  He then tries a cross footed hiker to 360 bike varial to cross footed hiker.  It doesn't happen the first try so he tries again and still doesn't lock it in.  This run though he hits the cross footed hiker to kickflip to regular hiker.  He finishes off with some crazy spins that he doesn't even come close to pulling off.  No, not his year.

This year it's all about Simon O'Brien who brings home the gold for Australia and Nathan who followed behind closely, but not close enough.  Trevor finally made it back onto the podium and was very happy walking away with the bronze medal even though he probably felt he could have done better.  Further down the line there were riders who may not have done as well as they should have done - but with judging based on opinion, instead of hard fact, this is going to happen.

We will probably see the top five riders in next years X-Games as pre-qualified athletes, while the rest will have to make appearances at events throughout the world next year if they want to be invited back to LA.  Expect most of them to show up, but also look for some new faces to try and appear.  Look for the guys that didn't make the cut this year, to step up and demand recognition through their skills next year.  As always, new guys will come and veterans will go, but there will always be riding so intense and hard that your jaw will drop as you see it.

No, BMXTRIX can't present one second of video from the actual contest.  ESPN is very exact about that:  No video footage from ANY final runs may appear in ANY format ever.  I may need to call them and try to work something out with that for next year.  Especially if we only see 120 seconds of coverage on TV from an hour plus long event.  Simon...  you gotta see Simon's run.


Simon O'Brien 93.40
Nathan Penonzek 92.00
Trevor Meyer 88.60
Ryoji Yamamoto 88.00
Jorge (Viki) Gomez 86.80
Phil Dolan 86.20
Stephan Cerra 85.80
Michael Sommer 85.80
Matt Wilhelm 85.40
Hiroyo Morisake 85.20
Jessie Puente 84.20
Michael Steingrabber 84.00
Terry Adams 83.00
Manuel Prado 82.80
York Uno 81.80
Chad Johnston 81.40
Martti Kuoppa 79.80
Aaron Behnke 79.20
Marcos de Jesus 78.60
Travis Collier 77.80