A night many thought would belong to Travis Pastrana, during the X Games‘ marquee Moto X Best-Trick competition on Thursday, instead belonged to event rookie Jackson Strong, who became the first freestyle motocross rider to land a front-flip at a major competition and easily won with a score of 95.66. As for Pastrana, it was all bad news. The action sports icon crash-landed (see first video) while attempting a 720 Toilet Paper Roll, which is sort of a flipping 720-degree spin and seemingly impossible to land.
Pastrana got up, climbed back on his 125-cc motorbike and tried the same trick again, out of turn, and landed sideways again, on his right leg, and had to be helped off the dirt. He suffered a broken foot and ankle, bringing to an abrupt end the much-hyped “Pastranathon,” which was supposed to have him compete in four events in four days — one of them his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in Indianapolis on Saturday.
“I am sorry this happened and will be back in action as soon as I can,” Pastrana told ESPN, after his release from the hospital.
But for Strong, 19, a Metal Mulisha team rider known as “Jacko,” there was lots of reason to celebrate. His front-flip (see video), which was completed during the first of two rounds,defeated two double back-flips, including one by superstar Cam Sinclair, who even added a variation for his trick.
“I was going to be pumped whether I took first or last place, it was just my goal to do a front-flip at X Games,” Strong said. “I think everyone saw how deep I had to dig. I had to hang on tight for that landing for sure.”
Double back-flips were once considered next-to impossible, but a front-flip seems to defy the laws of physics. The rider must get the motorcycle spinning forward after launching from a steep dirt ramp that is designed to allow for backward rotations.
It was a huge night for Jacko but also his fellow Australians: Sinclair finished second (94.66) and Josh Sheehan, who also stuck a double back-flip, finished third (93.33).
– Travis Pastrana photo (top) by Harry How / Getty Images