Jacko flips over the Pacific to Southern Cal

Chris Tedesco

Jackson Strong came of age with the Crusty Demons and now he's a two-time defending Best Trick champion at X Games.

After winning his second Moto X Best Trick gold medal this year at X Games Los Angeles, Jackson Strong decided it was time to set up shop in the ever-so famous Temecula, Calif.

Known as "Jacko" by most, the 20-year-old Australian is definitely a byproduct of his early freestyle motocross environment. Strong was part of the Crusty Demons tour at an early age. FMX was a little bit different back in the day, and for the most part flips hadn't been attempted yet or they were in the early stages of being introduced.

As Strong sat back and watched the sport grow he couldn't help but think that he wanted his slice of the FMX pie. This all became more realistic when he decided he was going to get the front flip dialed in. After working on it consistently and not giving up, he eventually got to where he could throw it as needed without crashing for the most part.

When asked if he ever thought he'd be riding FMX in America and winning gold medals at X Games, the sport's premier event, Jacko said: "I'd like to say yes because I wouldn't have even tried if I didn't think I could."

Winning gold in the 2011 X Games, and then repeating this year, Strong figured it was time to get a home set up in Southern California to bounce back and forth from Australia to the United States [he's back in Sydney this weekend for Red Bull X-Fighters]. Though he says he is not looking to stay permanently he will be making trips over here periodically for events and to get in some extra riding.

How long have you been riding?
I've been riding bicycles, bikes forever since I was a little kid but I didn't get my first proper motocross bike till I was about 12 years old.

How long have you been doing FMX?
I got into it pretty young, I was doing the Crusty Tour when I was 14. It taught me a lot of good lessons there. From 14-18 I had the most fun of my life hanging and partying with all the guys like [Brian] Deegan, [Todd] Potter, Bilko [Blake Williams], Sincs [Cameron Sinclair], [Steve] Mini and Chucky [Michael Norris].

What was it like at 14 being on the Crusty Tour?
Pretty much I can't talk about it here or I'll get in trouble [laughs].

You repeated gold medals this year at X Games, what was that like?
Ahh, it was good, I had a real s----- time leading up to it. My best friend got real hurt right before I was supposed to leave and the U.S. Consulate lost my passport so I pretty much got to America the day before X Games. I went there and everything worked out good.

Chris Tedesco

Jackson Strong pulls off a scorpion kiss of death on a recent ride in Temecula, Calif.

What inspired you to do the front flip?
It looked like something that was possible and I just wanted to try it. And when I started trying it, it was really hard and technical to do. Then I'd see other people trying to do it and missing, so it was something I'd just keep trying to do then I kind of became angry with it and didn't care. I just wanted to land those things and now I'm at the point where if I want to or need to do one at a contest, I pretty much can.

Yeah, you seem to have it down, can pull it consistently. What was the process like to get to that point?
Getting to the point of consistency, I went away riding the Crusty Tours, crashed every weekend, messed it up a bit and the tour was over and I had only landed one. I was done because it was not where I wanted to be and I just said "f--- it," put my gear on one day and started going round and round.

That's what it comes down to, you've just got to keep doing it. There was a while where I was doing one every day for a month and just this year before X Games I probably did another 10 to dirt. And when I get home here shortly I'll probably do another 10 to dirt. It's still scary as s--- though! It's probably the hardest, scariest trick I've ever done.

What does it feel like when you are in the air actually doing a front flip?
There's so much to think about because you have to judge your speed because it's different than a normal jump. And if you've ever jumped a big jump and your bike stalled or cut out or something and you can't hear anything except the wind flying through straight past your head. And then you've got to be ready to stretch out and pin the throttle on the landing.

You're a madman. So I hear you'll be setting up a home out here in Southern California?
Yeah, I just have heaps of fun out here, got lots of friends here and I get along with everyone pretty good here. So, yeah, I want to come out and spend more time here riding, having fun. And pretty much all the girls in Australia know what I'm up to [laughs] so if I come over here maybe I can have a crack at it here, and maybe let it dry up in Australia and head back over there.

So you plan on traveling back and forth from U.S. to Australia?
Yeah, I want to travel back and forth, I don't want to stay here full time as nice as it is here, I feel like I get more done when I'm at home, this is like a holiday for me in the U.S. compared to when I'm at home.

Chris Tedesco

Jackson Strong does a stripper backflip on a recent ride.

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