Speed storms to RallyCross gold; Strong hurt
American Scott Speed stunned the field Sunday in the Ford RallyCross final at X Games Foz, storming to the front in the last lap, then pulling away to beat Toomas Heikkinen by .007 seconds to snatch a surprise gold medal in his RallyCross debut.
Brazilian athletes, meanwhile, celebrated one of their greatest days in X Games skateboarding history when they claimed two back-to-back gold medals in the competition's final day.
Speed's stunning RallyCross upset beat out such favorites as X Games medalist Travis Pastrana, defending silver medalist Ken Block, and Tanner Foust, last year's overall Global RallyCross Championship winner. Pastrana, Block and Foust were all ousted from the event early after getting caught up in a tangle off the line in a scuttled first start.
"I love it!" said Speed, a former Formula One driver who never jumped a car before this week. "I can't believe how much fun that was. Easily the most fun I've ever had!"
RallyCross' first start brought out the red flag after a number of first-turn crashes left the course littered with wrecked cars and disappointed drivers, including Pastrana, Block, Foust and Buddy Rice.
"We just threw a Hail Mary into Turn 1," Pastrana said from the pits, as his crew inspected his car, the worst casualty from that first-start chaos. "But the front suspension, everything on the front left of the car is gone."
In Moto X Freestyle, Taka Higashino of Japan grabbed his second-ever gold with a win over Australian Rob Adelberg and American X Games rookie Wes Agee.
He stormed to an early lead after the first of two runs in the nine-man finals on the back of a rock-solid backflip double-grab combo and never looked back to add to his X Games Los Angeles 2012 Moto X Freestyle gold.
"I feel like it's not true, like I'm still sleeping," Higashino said, in a post-podium interview. "It's crazy. This is fantastic."
Sunday's final X Games Foz event, however, was marred when Australia's Jackson "Jacko" Strong was stretchered off the course, strapped to a backboard, following a scary crash after under-rotating on a backflip attempt. He lay still on the course for several minutes, but was eventually able to wave to the fans after being placed on the backboard.
I can't believe how much fun that was. Easily the most fun I've ever had!RallyCross winner Scott Speed
X Games medical staff confirmed to ESPN.com that Strong was conscious, moving and alert and that he was transported to a local hospital, where X-rays revealed a tibial right leg fracture. He was diagnosed with a concussion, but his CT scan came back negative, according to event doctors. He is alert and talking.
Doctors were expected to fit his leg for a splint and release him later Sunday with post-head injury precautions.
Strong later posted the following message on his Facebook page: "Hey everyone, I'm OK, I've just got a little broken bone in my ankle and I'm beat up but otherwise I'm all good. Thanks for all of the support!"
Earlier Sunday, Brazil's golds came from Leticia Bufoni, who won women's Skateboard Street to secure her first gold in a buzzer-beater over American Lacey Baker, and Pedro Barros winning men's Skateboard Park.
"I'm so stoked! I mean ... I'm just so stoked," the 20-year-old Bufoni said after she posted a winning score of 87.33.
The Sao Paulo native credited her move to California with helping her progress toward her first gold.
"There are a lot of skateparks [in California]," she said, "and here in Brazil we don't have a lot of skateparks."
Baker, 21, who won the bronze medal at X Games 2006 and recently dropped an online video that Thrasher magazine called "one of the best," was the contest's early standout with difficult tricks, including a nose slide backside 270 out.
Barros turned a complex concrete course into his personal playground to earn his third X Games Skateboard Park gold in four years in front of the raucous home crowd.
Barros, 18, skated faster and higher than the rest of the field -- as has become his hallmark over the past few years. After clinching gold when silver medalist Rune Glifberg failed to earn the 44-point score that would have tied Barros, Barros punched his board a few times then grabbed a Brazilian flag and waved it in front of the packed bleachers.
"It's amazing, it's what I wanted," he said. "At home, give this to the crowd."
At that, Barros exclaimed in Portuguese into a microphone, "Brazil deserves gold!" and the fans erupted.
Information from XGames.com contributor Devon O'Neil, Colin Bane and Keith Hamm was included in this report.