Doubling Down in San Diego

After leaving the NIke Innovation Summit, I flew to San Diego for a few days of moto madness: the inaugural ESPN Moto X World Championships held at Qualcomm Stadium (home of the SD Chargers). I love how self-important we are at ESPN. The “world championships”. I think the Moto X Games would have been a smarter name for this event. It builds on a franchise people have heard of. And, let’s be honest. This is an invite-only event. It might as well be called the Moto X SoCal Championships.

The event itself was a fun watch. Too bad ESPN forgot to tell anyone about it. Over two days, I’d estimate no more than a few thousand people turned out. That was to be expected, I guess. It was blue skies, sunny and 80+ every day—too hot to sit in a stadium watching sports. Perfect weather for a day a the beach, though. Besides, the event was live on ESPN. Why show up when you could watch it in the comfort and cool of your living room?

For those who did show up, they were treated to a few big moments. Scott Murray landed the second double backflip in freestyle motocross contest history. The disparity between Pastrana’s double at summer X 2006 and Scott’s double here on Saturday could not be greater. Folks didn’t even get out of their seats to applaud. And had Kyle Loza landed his handstand-backflip body varial craziness, Murray wouldn’t even have won the event. That’s progression in this sport.

I talked to Murray after the event, and he said he was just thrilled for the opportunity to compete alongside guys he calls his heroes. He says he was bummed Loza didn’t land his trick, and he would have been happy to lose to him, had he stuck it. But the first-place check was nice—especially for a guy with no sponsors.

Murray, who made his contest debut at last summer’s X Games, was starstruck at that event, but says he is beginning to feel like one of the guys. He spent six weeks on the Crusty tour down in Australia this winter, and it showed this weekend. He threw that double with confidence. And with Pastrana up in the broadcast booth watching. Now he says he’s taking his ramp and his trick on the road.

Which is what I’m about to do. I’m off to Chicago for the USOC Olympic media summit—a three-day crash course in this five-ring circus I’ll be covering this summer in Beijing. Stay tuned.

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