X Games features two new extreme sports events

Reanna Zuniga

For a second year in a row, fans of extreme sports will get to experience the high-flying, adrenaline-filled action up close at the X Games Austin, but this year will feature two new events — the Moto X QuarterPipe and the Big Air Doubles .

Chase Hawk, an Austin-native and the BMX Freestyle Gold Medalist from the 2014 X Games, announced the launch of the two new events in December 2014. Hawk, who grew up shredding his tires on the streets of Austin, will fight to defend his title this weekend. Regardless of whether he wins the top spot this year, Hawk said he is excited to be back in Austin celebrating the huge event.

Hawk described the new addition of the Moto X QuarterPipe as a freestyle event in which six riders will attempt a trick off of a quarterpipe ramp. Each of the six bikers will have a chance at two runs and have their best score counted toward the final ranking.

The Big Air Doubles will be a new team competition that pairs a BMX and Skateboard athlete together. The individual athletes will do their five runs separately but have their best individual gap and quarterpipe scores combined together to make the final score.

“Honestly, I can’t really think of a better city in the U.S. to showcase an event like this,” Hawk told the Austin American-Statesman in December. “With how active Austin is and how much the action sports scene is growing in the city, it does nothing but enhance all those things.”

From what has strictly been a sports event to a now-turned festival event, Austin has transformed the X Games experience. Last year, Tim Reed, the X Games senior director of events and content, said Austin embraced the new atmosphere of the event.

“We took a new approach to the event and provided a much broader offering for the audience and fans,” Reed said. “It was refreshing and there was a lot of good energy around the venue.”

The new approach seemed to work, too. The X Games attracted more than 160,000 people during the four days in June, making it the most attended festival since 2004.

Jason Dial, CEO of Circuit of The Americas, the host site for the games, said he and his team are looking forward to building onto the momentum of last year’s Austin X Games.

“In 2015, you’ll see us amplify the festival aspect even more, combining Austin’s unique environment and culture with the excitement of the X Games,” Dial said.

In addition to the promised extreme sports action and the meet and greets with athletes, the X Games are also featuring big-name music artists, such as Nicki Minaj and Metallica.

Undeclared junior Kyle Patterson said freestyle motocross is his favorite event, but he’s most excited about the musical guests.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Metallica; it’s going to be an awesome show,” Patterson said.

Patterson also said getting the chance to hang out with the athletes is one of the best things about the X Games.

The extreme sport action kicks off 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Austin with Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing. ESPN and ABC will be airing the X Games over the weekend.