X Games leave footprint on Austin despite weather-related disruptions

AddThis

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

BMX professional Kyle Baldock dismounted his bike, tossed his helmet to the side and threw his fist in the air as he pumped up the crowd in front of him. 

The Australian native already sent fans into a frenzy after whipping his bike 720 degrees underneath him as he flew high above the concrete. The stunt earned him the Dave Mirra BMX Park golden bike pedal for best trick. But for Baldock, the award was just the icing on top of the thrill of getting the Circuit of the Americas crowd on its feet. 

“We’re not here to do anything but get the crowd hyped,” Baldock said. “That’s the only must-do thing … Going out there, seeing the fans, throwing my helmet off — that’s all love.” 

Fans were hungry for excitement after withstanding thunder, lightning and a variety of weather-related delays throughout the X Games’ final weekend in Austin. Attendees missed out on rappers Logic and G-Eazy, who were scheduled to perform Friday before severe weather ended the night early. Other events like the skateboard and BMX Big Air finals were eventually canceled after several postponements.

“Weather’s been working against us — especially [Saturday]” attendee Chris Lupton said. “We talked to a bunch of people who drove in from out of town and different states, and they had to go back [Sunday]. They’re missing out on two days’ worth of events.”

Three events were squeezed into Sunday’s lineup after cancellations the previous two days. The packed schedule yielded simultaneous events, causing fans to have to choose between different high-profile competitions, like the Skateboard Park Final and the Intel BMX Dirt Final. 

BMX professional Chase Hawk, an Austin native, said he was disappointed to see the weather dampen Austin’s final year as host of the X Games.
However, he felt the X Games staff excelled in handling the conditions and keeping the event going.

“It’s one of those unfortunate situations where it’s not what anybody wants,” Hawk said. “But it’s awesome how much they’ve been able to accommodate it. They’re always able to dry the course and the dirt, and they’re always still able to run the event — that’s
what matters.”

The poor weather conditions put a dent in what was otherwise a largely successful final stop for the X Games. An estimated crowd of 100,000-plus packed the Circuit of the Americas, and reinstated events like BMX and Skateboard Street drew massive crowds. Additionally, both fans and athletes raved about this year’s changes to the festival’s layout, which made competitions more accessible to those navigating the venue. 

“[The layout] makes sure everybody has space,” attendee Gage Olson said. “Everybody can see what they want to see. The way all these different tracks and courses are set up — it’s pretty cool.” 

X Games Vice President Tim Reed said before the festival’s start that he hoped to leave Austin with its best show yet. While weather made its impact early and often, it didn’t overshadow the emotions both athletes and fans felt seeing the festival go. 

“It’s hard because I love Austin and I want to continue here,” professional motocross racer Edgar Torronteras said. “This place is amazing, the crowd keeps coming and coming, everything is close, the concerts and everything — it’s hard.”

It’s yet to be seen whether the X Games will return to Austin in the future. But the city has undoubtedly embraced the competition during its three-year stint at the Circuit of the Americas. The festival fostered a lively action sports culture and if it returns, it will pick up where it left off. 

“I absolutely [want it to return],” BMX professional Jamie Bestwick said. “You have a huge action sports presence here in Austin. What better event to come to Austin than the X Games?”