The Summer XGames
Extreme sports athletes take over Philadelphia once again
by John Gettings
ESPN's Summer Extreme Games VIII will bring over 300 of the world's best alternative sports athletes to Philadelphia from Aug. 15?19 to compete for medals and more than $1 million in prize money.
The 2002 Summer XGames will feature 22 free-to-the-public events, which are expected to draw a quarter of a million spectators back to the City of Brotherly Love for the second straight year.
Here's a brief rundown of the Games' unique events:
Aggressive In-line Skating
In the Vert event, skaters compete in the halfpipe, scoring points for tricks during a timed routine. This isn't the in-line skating your parents try in vain to do. In the halfpipe, skaters reach menacing speeds and can get up to eight feet over the lip of the ramp on some tricks. Teams must combine athleticism, creativity, and some choreography to impress judges and tally high scores for their efforts. In the Park competition, skaters are judged on how creatively and how well they perform tricks while maneuvering through a course lined with jersey barriers, ramps, and handrails carefully designed to resemble an urban playground.
Bicycle Stunt Riding
This discipline also has Vert and Park competitions, but it has some unique events as well. In the Dirt Jumping event, bikers try to wow the crowd and judges with high-flying tricks after launching off a dirt ramp. Also, a crowd favorite is the Flatland event, where bikers perform difficult tricks of balance and strength as they slowly roll along flat land during a timed routine. Riders climb all over the frame of their bikes like they were jungle gyms and hop on their back tires like pogo sticks, all to impress the judges and raise the bar for bike tricksters across the country.
The Step Up event is a high jump for motorcycles. Riders will attempt to clear a bar that gets raised every round until a winner is determined. Freestyle is basically bike tricks done on a dirt bike, the more athletic-looking cousin of the motorcycle. Dirt ramps will be the launching pad for riders who will look to impress judges with aerial moves that blur the laws of gravity. Riders save their best tricks for the Big Air competition where the highest jump combined with the craziest trick earns the most points.
The Park event is similar to its in-line skating counterpart, with the obvious execption that these competitors will be on skateboards. In the Vert competition, skaters perform tricks in a 14-foot tall halfpipe. For Vert Doubles, competitors pick a partner to join them in the pipe. The Best Vert Trick competition is a free-form event where competitors get the opportunity to break new ground with a trick that impresses the judges and raises the bar for the sport. In the Street event, competitors navigate through a course of what should be familar surroundings to urban skateboarders: pavement, curbs, benches, and concrete stairs. Again, competitors are judged on how creative and how well they use the course.
This is hardcore rock climbing where speed and strength determine the winner. Athletes have to pull themselves up an artificial rock in a one-on-one race to the top. The first one to slap the buzzer at the finish line moves on to the next round. This event has been a staple at the games since 1995.
This event combines surfing and water skiing. Competitors are rope-towed by a motorboat and use a small surfboard with foot bindings to ride the water behind a boat. Athletes use the boat's wake to launch into quick spinning and flipping tricks. Judges award points for tricks completed during a run.