Red Bull X-Fighters Sydney 2012: Jerry's Blog 'Thursday Practice'


by Jerry Bernardo, 04/10/2012

A special order must have been placed in early for a stellar day of weather as the Red Bull X-Fighters finally took to the course for the first day of training. At first glance the epic playground looked like a storage yard for freestyle ramps that lay all strewn-about amongst huge chocolate cakes spiking off of the field. To the non-riders the course appears much like a maze, but to the talent pool of elite riders on hand it is a veritable carnival ride. Dane Herron, Red Bull's master course sculptor [along with his crew] once again shaped and carved pristine landers for this, the final round of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour.

A special quarter pipe ramp was constructed as an aid in luring French rider Tom Pages to amaze the seething crowd with his stunning move yanked straight from the pages of BMX. The first-ever 'flair' was stomped like a boss by Pages at the Munich round of Red Bull X-Fighters. Once thought impossible, Pages made it (the trick) seem so effortless and was rewarded by the judges with high marks for innovation. Its ground-breaking moves like this one that launch this sport in a next-level direction no one seemed to see coming.

Practice for Red Bull X-Fighters is when the riders get a chance to time all the jumps and decide which way they will weave about the myriad of obstacles. After a half-dozen riders hit the course it was decided to remove some of the metal mesh run-ins. These are steel sheets that sit on the ground at the entrance to some of the ramps. A small wiggle of the knobbies on the open metal was throwing off the smooth transition up onto the ramp itself and changes were soon made to insure the safety of all.

The big 110' hit on course prove to bit slightly daunting for a few and soon the teamwork entered into the equation with Pages leading fellow riders [to the jump] at the right speed to clear the massive hit.

Though the wind was indeed a bit of a factor the boys soldiered on and managed to squeak in a few big flip combos later in the day led by Japanese rider Taka Higashino who threw down some huge Heel Clicker flips regardless of Mother Nature's cruel aerial embrace. The X Games Best Trick silver medallist Higashino is the only guy on tour who pulls a Rock Solid back flip and we are all waiting with baited breath in the hopes he will deliver that heart-stopping trick on the day! The always-smiling Taka is in fine form and will indeed be a factor when the competition is in full swing on Saturday.

With the course finely tuned and all the cobwebs blown off by the Sydney Harbour breeze the riders will see tomorrow how it all pans out during qualifying later in the day.

As I sat in the stands watching practice with Metal Mulisha's Jackson Strong we chatted idly as the bikes roared though the sky. I asked him if the course was fun. His reply was short and to the point; "No". I followed up by asking if that answer was based on the compact space of the course or the event itself. "Jacko" smiled and replied "The competition - everybody will be throwing down. "To win at this level one has to hang it out a bit and push the envelope to ensure a place in history.

Winning the final here on Cockatoo Island will prove to be a massive task as twelve of the best freestyle motocross pilots in the world fight to one-up each other and move on till only one man stands crowned in glory.

Limited tickets to the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour Final are still available,