Sydney Goes Wild and Levi Sherwood Takes out The Red Bull X-Fighters Grand Finale 2012


by Jerry Bernardo, 06/10/2012

"We have just witnessed every Best Trick winning move from the past ten years at one event." Brody Hendrickson / Red Bull X-Fighters Judge

The battle for glory on Cockatoo Island needed no time to reach a feverish pitch as competitors pulled all the stops right out of the gate. After an initial tantrum from Mother Nature in the early part of the day the "tears from heaven" must have missed the final boat to the island and we got down to business at hand. Eight of the finest FMX legends in the land stood perched above a playground of picture-perfect tacky dirt ready to trickle each other down till only one man stood tall in the Sydney Harbour breeze.

The sport of freestyle motocross decided early on that the word "plateau" had no place in its world. The innovation and bravado of the Red Bull X-Fighters cannot be measured, nor capped as they try to outdo one other off ramps of steel and today's tour finale left nothing behind.

It was no secret that the two tied-in-points riders Tom Pages and Levi Sherwood would deliver their special brand of acrobatics but fellow competitors did not make their work any easier by fending both of them off at every turn.

When young upstart Jackson Strong comes straight out of the gate and does a front flip with his head jammed down into the gas cap the crowd went completely insane! Now factor in the same exact trick (one that no one else in the world performs) repeated later in the competition but this time with a death-defying one-hander the claim has been made that "Jacko" is not going down without a fight.

This sort of madness seemed to be the order of the day as each rider brought out all the tricks that earned them a spot at Red Bull X-Fighters but managed to blow us all away by moving the group one more rung up the "crazy ladder" with new twists.

Fox/Oakley rider Cam Sinclair's perfect 540 off the quarter pipe was massive compared to yesterday's effort. This is a trick that was kept under wraps by the Southside Camp until it was unveiled at Cockatoo Island and the Aussie legend nailed it even bigger while 10,000 fans sat god-stopped. *Cam must have missed the memo that said "You and your wife have just had a baby, it's time to start slowing down"

With "Sincs" and Josh Sheehan both in the roster here in Sydney lucky fans had two of the four men in the entire planet that can successfully pull a double back flip. Sheehan hit the course in attack-mode and launched the mighty Honda skyward revolving it two complete times before landing back into the safe embrace of Mother Earth. This [trick] is no easy feat and the Western Australian rider is not even 100% healthy from his crashes earlier in the year. Now I ask you; did any of that nonsense stop him from trying and nailing it? Peer pressure may have factored in a bit when the fans are screaming for more and everyone knows two flips are better than one.

What can be said about Tom Pages other than the fact that he is either a gifted talent or possibly could need to see a psychiatrist. "TP" was in full-effect and once again stepping up in the moment, peeling all of our eyes back with his style and aggressive moves. When a mere flair was not enough for him he took a hand off the bars! The biggest whips in the business took place regardless of any possible breezy interaction, repeated body varials braced the airspace and he even added the difficult 360 to his run. If his run was sign language the message was sent to tour points leader New Zealand's Levi Sherwood that the one-man French army has come to do battle and the big guns have indeed been drawn.

The Rubber Kid from across the Tasman shrugged it all off and went about his business as usual doing yoga in the sky hanging off his KTM for what seemed like an eternity every time. Jump after jump he (Sherwood) ticked boxes and curled around his mount serpent-like and full of venomous desire. Levis was fully aware that here was an event to be won but also a championship on the line and not one rider here today left anything in the tank. Caution was thrown to the wind and tricks were amplified beyond human comprehension with new and unseen variations in the sport aplenty.

When the dust had settled and the judges had dissected each run to the bare details the pain of an eighty point loss in Munich seemed like a paper cut now to kid from Palmerston North. Levi Sherwood took top honours wining the 39th Red Bull X-Fighters ever held on this planet and locked down the world tour championship in the process. A cool head and a bag of tricks as big as ANZ Stadium kept Sherwood dead-centre on the big stage with two trophies in hand on the podium.

Many years ago it all started when some young guns whipped their motocross bike off natural hits while just "playing" around. Later on down the road Cary Hart threw a back flip, Travis Pastrana came back with a double back flip and now it seems--the sky is the limit with body varials, flairs and endless combos in all directions.

Red Bull X-Fighters in 2013 will move the sport of freestyle into the stratosphere and avalanche-like it cannot be stopped.

Thanks for playing Sydney, "onya"!