The obscure motocross discipline of Enduro X got prime-time spotlight at the close of X Games 17 Sunday, and true to its billing, the new event proved a suitably bone-crunching affair entirely worthy of X involvement.
“It’s pretty clear Enduro X is here to stay,” said X Games host Sal Masekela.
The sport’s biggest hero, Taddy Blazusiak of Poland, came-from-behind to win his first X Games gold medal after surviving an unplanned trip to the last chance qualifier in order to gain entrance to the main event. That was one more grueling race than he wanted.
More widely known as Enduro Cross, this very technical form of moto racing is much more crash-derby than Supercross, with riders battling for survival on what is essentially a brutal obstacle course. The track is filled with boulders, giant logs, ponds and of course a few jumps and tight turns that require exceptional strength, agility, and of course endurance.
Having said that, it’s never going to be considered a pretty looking sport. Frankly, its ugliness is one of its most endearing characteristics, as the wipeouts are spectacular.
While speeds don’t approach those found in the premier motocross racing series like Supercross (stadium) and outdoor, the hits are just as bad, and much more frequent.
While a fledgling American Enduro Cross series helped the sport gain the notoriety needed to earn X Games placement, it’s much more popular in Europe, where riders like Taddy Blazusiak have been dominating it.
That said, the fledgling American tour is likely to attract more local talent now with Enduro X getting X Games attention. And for what it’s worth, Americans Mike Brown and Justin Soule proved they can compete by taking the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Blazusiak’s road to victory was hardly an easy one. In his first heat he failed to advance directly to the final after getting caught up in an early pile up, and later, thrown over the handlebars while trying to jump a log.
After winning the last chance qualifier he found himself in a tough final battle. Mike Brown jumped out to an early lead, but Blazusiak pounced on the outside of a critical turn when Brown got hung up trying to avoid another rider.
“It’s been a great night–a long night,” Blazusiak said afterward. “It took me a while to get to the main but we did it.”
Blazusiak is just the third Polish athlete in X Games history to win a gold medal. The other two both came in the now extinct X Games discipline of speed climbing.
Top: Racers get tangled in the corner made of huge boulders in Enduro X, the newest motcross discipline in X Games. Below: Taddy Blazusiak of Poland came in as the favorite, but had to work harder than he wanted in order to take the gold medal. Photos: Gettyimages/How.