While the majority of the action takes place at COA, you can get a taste of the X Games for free as they herald their arrival in ATX with a kickoff party Downtown. Breaking in the 60-foot-wide vertical ramp in the shadow of the Capitol dome is a demo by Tony Hawk and Friends, which seems appropriate for a guy who once skated around the White House. Following that will be two medal events: the BMX and Skateboarding Vert competitions. If the big airs, spins, and lip tricks haven't sent you into extreme sensory overload, head over to Moody Theater for the launch of the music portion of the games with a set by Holy Ghost. And if that doesn't get you in the mood for a weekend of high-flying, dirt-splattering excitement, check your pulse.
The X Games Kickoff Party takes place at the corner of 10th Street and Congress Avenue. The event is free, but you must RSVP for the concert here: www.myspacepresentsholyghost.splashthat.com/.
5pm: Tony Hawk and Friends
6:30: Skateboard Vert Round One
8: BMX Vert Final
9: Skateboard Vert Final
10: Holy Ghost! at the Moody Theater
Action sports not really your thing? In fact, you can go the whole weekend without witnessing a single motocross rally. This year, X Games debuts an "enhanced festival-style experience" with nine different villages devoted to entertaining the sweatbands off of you.
• X Music hunkers down at the Austin360 Amphitheater with headliners Kanye West and the Flaming Lips (see preview on p.50).
• The Galleria does your standard mall food court and shops one better with a graffiti wall.
• The Playground turns kiddie play extreme with hydra tag and baby bungee.
• It may seem a little, ahem, unsporting that you can't bring your board or bike onto the festival grounds, but you can at least rent one at Ride the Track.
• The Garage puts your sweet ass in the seat of go-karts and racing simulators.
• ESPN Clubhouse boasts a pop-up sport bar and jumbo TVs – kinda like a man cave, only in 90-degree heat.
• Gaming Shack offers no card tables or dice games, but if you're tired and sunburned and the doctor says you're lazy, you can maybe rest everything but your hands and play some Call of Duty.
• Green Planet is where you can learn about organizations that are doing good by the earth, and how you can be an eco-do-gooder too.
• In a nod to its host city, X Games unveils the Texas Ranch, with an "authentic" saloon. Two words: mechanical bull. Okay, three more: We're so there.
That same dirt is used for all four years. Where they put it during the off-season is anybody's guess. Might we recommend making a temporary course in the Highland Mall parking lot? Just sayin'.
Don't know a railslide from a tailslide? Not sure if you got roosted or yard saled? We're here to help. Here's a quick primer on what you can expect this weekend.
Broken up into five disciplines, athletes will be hitting the Dirt, the Park, and the Street tracks to show off their style and how well they master hard tricks like the 360 bike flip. But it's the two gravity-defying categories, the Big Air and Vert, that take our breath away, with riders speeding up quarter- and halfpipes in an attempt to make like Icarus.
Similar to the BMX groupings (without the Dirt track, duh), skaters will be introduced to an embarrassment of riches, as the X Games have gone all out to provide smooth bowls and ramps, and sneaky placements of rails, ledges, and stairs to provide for all manner of combinations. Just don't fake your fakie.
These two events take full advantage of the COA track, with a devious course full of dirt jumps, hairpin curves, and more than a few opportunities for chassis-crushing action. New to X Games this year, the Stadium Super Trucks are high-powered, Baja-style race trucks that will be giving gravity a run for its money.
There are the Freestyle and the Speed & Style events that will put riders through their paces, but the Best Whip event, where athletes throw their 250-pound cycles sideways in the air and bring them down with style, and the Step Up competition, in which contenders try to climb a near-vertical wall are highly recommended. And then there's the Enduro X race: a course filled with sand, dirt, water, logs, and boulders that is just as insane as it sounds.
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