What to Watch for at X Games LA
It's that time again. The world's biggest action sports spectacle has descended on downtown Los Angeles, bringing with it the premier athletes and innovators, as well as cutting-edge culture unlike anything you'll see this summer. Capturing everything can be a challenge, but in the name of making informed decisions, we've put together this primer. Are you ready to rock?
SATURDAY, JUNE 30
Don't Miss: BMX Vert (ESPN3, 8:30 p.m. ET). Vert legend Jamie Bestwick is on arguably the most dominant run in X Games history, winning the past five gold medals, including his most recent at age 40. But to complete just the second six-peat in any XG discipline, the affable Briton will have to hold off 2011 silver medalist Steve McCann of Australia, who has rapidly closed the gap in the past year. Bestwick still holds a sizable advantage in the height he reaches out of the pipe, but McCann's triple tailwhip and no-handed 900 last year showed he's technically on par with Bestwick, if not superior, as some insiders believe. Will Bestwick unveil his most technical tricks to confirm his untouchable reputation, or will McCann break one of the great streaks in BMX history? Their showdown -- which could also feature Vince Byron and Chad Kagy -- promises to be one of the highlights on a whirlwind day in L.A.Also: Rallycross racer Tanner Foust and Hollywood stunt driver Greg Tracy will be turning X Games upside down in the Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare (ABC, 1 p.m. ET), the follow-up to Foust's world-record setting Hot Wheels for Real jump last year at the Indianapolis 500. ... Raven Tershy, Pedro Barros and Ben Hatchell marked a generation shift in Skate Park last year, snatching the podium from older park slayers such as Omar Hassan, Rune Glifberg and Andy Macdonald. This year's park course, designed by California Skateparks, will favor the fast: Keep an eye on Kevin Kowalski and Curren Caples (ESPN 3 p.m. ET). ... Vicki Golden defends her Women's Moto X Racing gold against the likes of Tarah Gieger and Meghan Ruttledge (ESPN3 8 p.m.; ESPN 9 p.m. ET). ... With Shaun White officially out of the picture, Pierre Luc-Gagnon shifts his focus to rising Skate Vert challengers, including Alex Perelson and Mitchie Brusco (ESPN 9 p.m. ET). And Nate Adams is the man to beat in Moto X Speed & Style, an event combining racing chops with freestyle flair. Watch for big moves from Jeremy Stenberg, who has shifted his focus away from straight freestyle events, and Carey Hart, who has said he's retiring from competition after this weekend. (ESPN 9 p.m. ET).
SUNDAY, JULY 1Don't Miss: RallyCross (ESPN2, 3 p.m.; ESPN, 5 p.m. ET). The RallyCross field got a huge boost earlier this month when eight-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb of France accepted a personal challenge from fellow Red Bull athlete Travis Pastrana to compete in L.A. Loeb is easily the most feared driver in the world, but he's never raced in a rallycross event -- nor in North America, for that matter. His presence at X Games marks a coup for American rally racing, and you can bet his Citroen car will be targeted by the rest of the field, which could be the deepest of any XG sport. Last year's Ford Fiesta podium sweep, led by surprise champ and Moto X pioneer Brian Deegan, will be hard to repeat, even if Marcus Grönholm and Tanner Foust have been on fire this season. And then there's NASCAR convert Pastrana, who's skipping the two-wheeled events and focusing strictly on rallycross in his new Dodge Dart. No matter who wins, expect to see the most intense rally action in X Games history. Also: Nyjah Huston made his X Games Skate Street debut in 2006 when he was just 11 years old, then the youngest competitor in X Games history. After taking silver in 2009 and 2010 and gold in 2011, he's become a dominant force, also cleaning up in Rob Dyrdek's Street League competitions. He might just be unbeatable, but don't try telling that to Chaz Ortiz, Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, Greg Lutzka, Ryan Decenzo or Shane O'Neill, all podium contenders (ESPN 5 p.m. ET). ... BMX Big Air brings guaranteed spills and thrills as Steve McCann defends his gold and Chad Kagy and Kevin Robinson return to competition (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). ... And watch for Taddy Blazusiak and Maria Forsberg as Moto X Enduro X racing returns to X Games for its sophomore year; both riders went undefeated in 2011 after claiming gold in the sport's X Games debut last year (ESPN 2, 9 p.m. ET).