First ever X Games Austin puts sports front and center

Arenas of ancient times featured gladiators fighting impossible odds for survival. This weekend, X Games Austin put forth its own modern gladiators. Instead of weapons, they brought boards and bikes to fight competition, and whether the arena was a bowl, a dirt track or a half pipe, the impossible odd remained the same: gravity.

With four days, four extreme sports, three stages of live music and dozens of booths and food vendors, Austin welcomed the festival for the first of four years. 

Day one was set up just outside the Capitol building, and skate vert and BMX vert contests were held in front of about 12,000 fans on Congress Avenue. X Games history was made Thursday when Jimmy Wilkins became the youngest skater to obtain gold in the vert skate and Jamie Bestwick won his ninth consecutive gold in BMX vert.

The rest of the festival was hosted at Circuit of the Americas on 1,500 acres of competition courses, booths and nine villages, including bull rides, small skate ramps and the first-ever X Games video game competition. Motocross sports dominated the day with Enduro X, Best Whip and Step up, and 14-year-old Tom Schaar shocked the crowd by winning the Big Air Skate against legend Bob Burnquist. 

In music, early in Dillon Francis’ set, audience members rushed the stage, causing the fire marshal to turn off the sound. The sound was turned back on minutes afterward but not without a warning for the crowd to back up. Pretty Lights’ light show was an impressive feat, pulling out all the stops.

On Saturday, Kanye West went on at 11:30 p.m., and despite earlier threats of rushing the stage and taking the available seating, the crowd was subdued. West’s performance was high energy, leaving nothing to be desired by the packed crowd.

Sunday brought a close to Austin’s first taste of the X Games with the athletes, thousands of fans and dozens of music artists finishing their four days of constant extreme sports and extreme heat. The day’s competitions included the BMX Park final, Women’s Skateboard Street final and Super Trucks closing the festival with performances by Gary Clark Jr. and The Flaming Lips.