Jamie Bestwick eight-peats in BMX Vert
BARCELONA, Spain -- Jamie Bestwick is now officially in a class of his own after topping his record-setting seventh consecutive BMX Vert win last month in Brazil with an eighth gold medal Friday at X Games Barcelona.
"I had a Barcelona shirt made with my name and number 8 on the back, but I couldn't wear it," Bestwick said, noting that he felt a bit superstitious about the eight-peat possibility coming into the event. "I'm at a loss for words, and it was an honor to ride in such a historic event."
The British rider made his X Games debut in 1996 with a bronze medal in BMX Vert and won his first gold in 2000. He won again in 2003 and doubled up in 2005 with BMX Vert and BMX Vert Best Trick victories. He took BMX Vert silver in 2006 and has dominated the event ever since, winning every X Games main event since 2007.
Snowboarder Shaun White, SnoCross racer Tucker Hibbert and the Skateboard Vert Doubles team of Tony Hawk and Andy Macdonald are in the X Games six-peat club, but Bestwick's eight-peat is a first.
In Barcelona, he barely edged out fellow British rider Simon Tabron for the win in a tiebreaker finish (the five judges' scores from the top-scoring runs are averaged to break the tie). Australian rider Vince Byron came in close behind in the bronze-medal position, and Chad Kagy landed just off the podium despite bringing some of the day's biggest tricks, including a new front flip flair landed twice and a flair double tailwhip on the first wall of the vert ramp after dropping in.
Bestwick's runs included his trademark airs at height, opposite turndown flairs, fastplant flairs, downside tailwhips at height and a new move in his lexicon: a seatgrab nac nac 540.
He has grown accustomed to more clear-cut finishes than he got in Barcelona. He won X Games Foz do Iguaçu by an astounding 19 points and X Games Los Angeles 2012 by 14 points. In Barcelona, less than one point separated the top four finishers.
"I came here so well prepared. I was really riding well at home, but when I got here, with the wind, it just played with me and I didn't believe in myself," Bestwick said, despite leading after the first run in the new best-of-three runs format. He pulled it together under pressure, improving his score in his second run enough to take a victory lap in the final run.
His competitors will have to wait until 2014 to unseat Bestwick. BMX Vert won't be contested at X Games Munich or X Games Los Angeles this year.
"You're going to miss a really good show," Bestwick said, lamenting the decision, which was announced earlier this month. "I think this was an awesome contest, and these Spanish fans would definitely agree."