Confessions of an X Games Ramp Builder


Ryan Corrigan, X Games ramp builder/wallride to x-upper.

Ryan Corrigan is part of the esteemed crew of professionals that once a year, works for a solid month to get the X Games BMX courses up and running. Ryan's also been through the ringer as far as BMX goes. He's traveled all over the world, ridden for FBM for years and always seems to send me a postcard when he's off in some exotic location building ramps. Since the X Games are quickly approaching, I figured it would be a good time to catch up with Ryan and get a glimpse into the behind the scenes aspect of X Games. Ryan is already in LA, holed up in a hotel until the week of the X Games, working seven days a week to make sure that everything is dialed. But I'll let him do the explaining. And oh yeah, if you've ever enjoyed watching the X Games, be thankful that Ryan Corrigan has a knack for building sweet bowl corners. How'd you get into building ramps?
A skateboarder friend of mine said this once. He told somebody, "We build these ramps because we're failed skateboard professionals." And basically, it's the same with all of us. I rode BMX forever but it didn't really pay the bills. I had to do something, and since we ride, we know what ramps work where, what radiuses to use, what trannies to use. We have a better eye since we know what we want to ride.
What are you guys working on for the entire month before the X Games?
The beginning is the park course. We're setting up the under structure. Basically all the ramps but without the Skatelite. Everything on the deck is wood again, that's what we usually build. The under structure will support the cement park that they're going to be laying on top. Hopefully, by next week, this whole park course should be done. I'm working on the most complicated part right now, and that's where the ramps are going over the cradle. It's like building a big hip that isn't a normal hip, only doing it upside down and twice. But I like it.
Do you guys know how that's going to work?
We're setting up these ramps, and then they come in and are putting four inches of cement over the whole entire place, give or take. We're setting the coping up, and they finish up to the coping. They're supposed to start pouring pretty soon.

A Ryan Corrigan creation, completely dialed loop constructed of scrap wood and pallets. From the FBM Ghetto comp in '05.

Do you guys just do the park course?
No, we also do the street course. Once we get done with park, we have to do two interactive courses and then the street course. What's your favorite part of the job?
That's a hard one. It's a lot of work out in the sun. People think building ramps is cool and glorious. But it's work. It's physical labor out in the sun all day. My favorite parts are the tedious parts; the corners. The parts nobody likes to do, but I'm into it. I get to be by myself and concentrate and make things that shouldn't be made out of wood, nice and smooth. Who or what is your favorite place to build with or at?
As far as favorite ramps or people to work with, favorites are always working at Terrible One with Joe Rich and Taj Mihelich when he was a part of it. We just have free reign over what we want to do.

People think building ramps is cool and glorious. But it's work. It's physical labor out in the sun all day.

--Ryan Corrigan

Do you guys get to test out the courses?
Even before the ramps are done, we're trying it out to see if it works. This year should be interesting. We should have a lot of the building done before the cement is done, so we can ride atop the course, but not in the bowl. Who's your favorite person to watch ride what you've created?
There's definitely a style I like to see. Chase Hawk, Gary Young; people that go fast and go big and just look great and aren't too concerned with a lot of tricks, but make it look good. What do you do at night?
We work till dark. I shower, I eat, that's about it. How long is the average work day?
Between 10 and 11 hours, for almost four weeks before the X Games start. It's just about a solid month of work, and so far, we've taken one day off, and that was a surprise. A lot of times, it's two to three weeks straight with no days off. Like I said, it's not glorious, it's not fun. I know there was one year where the park course had to be torn down completely by the next morning, right?
That was two years ago when we were in the tennis stadium. They had tennis matches booked for the following day, and we had to have the course out by the following morning. We started right around 3 PM when finals were done, and I walked out at 6 AM. It was non-stop work all night. We don't have to do that anymore now that we're out in the parking lot. Look for more updates from Ryan on X Games 15 park construction in the coming weeks.

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