Baldock bags BMX double gold honors
Australia's Kyle Baldock followed up his earlier BMX Park win with a gold medal in BMX dirt Saturday to become the first BMX rider to win two golds in the same X Games competition since 2006.
British rider Jamie Bestwick also made history by wrapping up the first seven-peat in any X Games sport when he won first place in BMX Vert.
Baldock overtook perennial favorite Ryan Nyquist in his second run on the back of a corked 720, tailwhip to barspin, x-up, and tailwhip windshield wiper 360. He held on to his lead for two more rounds before matching his own score of 92.00 in the final run with a double tailwhip backflip, barspin tuck no-hander, x-up and no-handed front flip.
"All the boys love this," Baldock said, in a post-podium interview. "[Dirt] is where BMX came from. We needed this back, and it's good that X Games made this choice. I hope they do it at all the stops."
Finishing in the silver-medal spot behind Baldock was Michigan BMX Dirt rider Brandon Dosch, and ending the contest in the bronze-medal position was Nyquist with a score of 90.66.
"You just try and stay rubber side down, really," Baldock said. "Riding against these guys is one of those adrenaline rushes where you have to try to contain it and try and do your best ... just riding with these guys has been just like having fun for me, and to pull off gold is just one of those things."
Baldock earlier rallied to his first X Games gold after holding off four Californians and a highly decorated Venezuelan in BMX Park.
"I can't tell you how I pulled it together," Baldock said of a win that was highlighted by tailwhip flairs, corked 900s and a backflip 360. "Practice was pretty hard for me because I don't ride courses like this. But seeing everyone throw down made me want to get out there. And to actually pull it together? Against Pat [Casey]? I have no words. I'm going home the happiest Aussie ever."
Casey stalked Baldock for much of the final jam session with stylish barspin flairs and double tailwhip 270 transfers. But during his final push for the top of the podium, he lost his line and settled for silver.
Dennis Enarson took the bronze, while fellow Californian Gary Young finished just out of medal contention.
Scotty Cranmer, the defending gold medalist, failed to make the final six-man jam session, while four-time gold medalist and Venezuela native Daniel Dhers finished fifth. This is the first time in the past six years that a BMX Park contest was not won by either Dhers or Cranmer.
My happy place was on top of that roll-in looking at that waterfall.Skate Vert winner Bucky Lasek
The 41-year-old Bestwick was never threatened on his way to his two-run BMX Vert score of 91 points, putting him 10 ahead of runner-up Coco Zurita. It was Zurita's best placing to date in an X Games BMX Vert event. Steve McCann, a high-rising Aussie and potential threat to Bestwick's seven-peat, claimed bronze in a picturesque -- and tough -- final next to Iguaçu Falls.
"Getting to ride for the fans in this setting, it's like I've already won," Bestwick said.
Bucky Lasek, the oldest man in the Skateboard Vert field, kicked off the turn-back-the-clock day as he beat 38-year-old Sandro Dias to win his first Vert gold medal in a decade.
The victory marked the first time in six years that neither Pierre-Luc Gagnon nor Shaun White captured gold in this event. White skipped X Games Foz, and Gagnon, who won four of the last five X Games Vert titles, struggled all day to land his tricks, finishing seventh in the eight-man field.
Marcelo Bastos joined the silver medalist Dias on the podium with bronze, giving Brazil two of the top three spots.
Lasek entered the second, full-run session in fourth place but shot into the lead on his first of five runs.
"I was a little bummed, a little down after the first heat," Lasek said. "But it made me care less and I was like, 'Boom, here you go, take this.' And all of a sudden, I was in a better mood. I don't want to say you got to give up, but when you overstress so much, you just have to find a happy place. And my happy place was on top of that roll-in looking at that waterfall."
Dias, the 2006 Vert gold medalist, sealed silver with a 900 in the best trick session moments after 13-year-old Tom Schaar -- 25 years his junior -- landed the same trick.
"After I saw Tom land his 900, I was like, 'I got to land one right now because this kid just landed one,' " Dias said. "I did, and now I'm happy. The old guys got first and second and then the kids came after us."
Elsewhere on Saturday, top elimination-round qualifier Nyjah Huston beat out Sean Malto and Torey Pudwill to claim gold in the Street League Skateboarding finals.
"That was not an easy battle," said Huston, the 2012 Street League Skateboarding champ and 2011 X Games Los Angeles Skateboard Street gold medalist. "Everyone always says I look calm out there. I was nervous as all hell."
Huston, 18, was the youngest skater in the field -- he first competed in X Games in 2006 at age 11 -- and by far the most consistent, bringing increasingly difficult tricks in each round of competition. This, his second X Games gold, joins a collection that also includes two silver and one bronze and a win in X Games Real Street.
"I would say skating a contest like this has a lot to do with your strategy," Huston said.
Some of the biggest surprises of the week came well before the start of Saturday's finals, with defending X Games Los Angeles 2012 gold medalist Paul Rodriguez and previous X Games gold medalists Ryan Sheckler, Chris Cole and Eric Koston all failing to make the top-eight cut from Friday's elimination round.
Information from XGames.com contributors Devon O'Neil, Keith Hamm and Colin Bane was included in this report.