Commentary

Home cookin'

Why battle crowds at local parks? X Gamers prefer to train in their own backyards

Updated: July 18, 2011, 6:21 PM ET
By Alyssa Roenigk | ESPN The Magazine

X GamesNathan Perkel for ESPN The MagazineTravis Pastrana on his 20-acre backyard training compound.

This story appears in the July 25 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Travis Pastrana
Age: 27
X Games events: Moto X Best Trick, RallyCross
Home Facility: Multisport playland in Davidsonville, Md.
Highlight: Big Wheel course down a steep hill to a ramp that launches into a mulch pit

The 11-time X Games gold medalist built his 20-acre compound with one goal: to advance air awareness. There's a diving board, two inground trampolines, a BMX park with resi-landings, an oversize indoor skatepark and various FMX and car ramps. "Everything here is related to getting in the air and figuring out how to flip and spin and find your feet again," Pastrana says. This July, the facility was upgraded with the X Games in mind. "My original goal for Moto X Best Trick was to finally land the 720," he says, "but I overrotate it." So now Pastrana wants to add another spin and attempt what is essentially a double cork 1080. "We're building ramps and landings, and Red Bull is setting up an airbag system like the ones they use for snowboarding," Pastrana says. "I believe this trick is possible." Consider yourself aware.


Sean Malto
Age: 21
X Games event: Skateboard Street
Home Facility: Indoor skatepark in Kansas City, Mo.
Highlight: Replica of famed Chinatown Banks in San Francisco

Nathan Perkel for ESPN The MagazineSean Malto on his home turf.

Kansas City has a lot going for it. But great year-round weather? Not so much. "The winters are harsh, and it's tough to skate in the snow," Malto jokes. That's why he built an indoor park. Well, not by himself, of course. Among those who chipped in to rent an 8,866-square-foot warehouse: his friends, his sponsor Gatorade, and the owners of hometown skate shop Escapist. Then Malto & Co. commissioned California RampWorks, which builds courses for Woodward, X Games and the Gatorade Free Flow Tour, to construct concrete ledges, ramps and a seven-stair set with a waist-high handrail. The result is the best skate facility in KC. "This park really caters to my needs," Malto says. Example? He thinks he failed to qualify for the biggest comp in Street League last year because he didn't have enough ride time on a four-sided obstacle called a pyramid hip. "So, I have one of those," he says.


Robbie Maddison
Age: 30
X Games events: Moto X Freestyle, Moto X Best Trick, RallyCross, Rally Car Racing
Home Facility: Jump park in Temecula, Calif.
Highlight: $100,000 foam pit

Maddison and his now-wife, Amy, moved from Sydney, Australia, to Southern California in 2006. "All we had was our bags, a bunch of motorcycle parts and a dream," he says. Now the 2010 Moto X Best Trick silver medalist and distance ace (world-record 350.98 feet) lives on a 2.8-acre property that features two 75-foot jumps, 65- and 110-foot kickers and a motocross course with a triple jump and a set of whoops. Maddison's newest addition is a custom foam pit, which is lined with rubber and contains fire-resistant foam -- all to help him take bigger risks during practice and ramp up his trick list. "I look at the pit as an investment," he says. "The kids coming through FMX have perfect extension and tons of flip tricks and are taking the sport to that next level. So if I can learn stuff the other guys aren't doing and be at the top of freestyle, it will pay for itself pretty quickly." And he'll be living the dream.


Curren Caples
Age: 15
X Games event: Skateboard Park
Home Facility: Skatepark in Oxnard, Calif.
Highlight: Massive (115 feet by 20 feet) mural by artists Jason Maloney and Bigfoot

Last year at X, Caples was one of the most electrifying skaters in Skateboard Park, even though falls cost him a medal (he finished fourth). This year, he hopes to land on the podium, and his new dream skatepark should help. California RampWorks built a three-stair rail and a quarterpipe with pool coping, among other obstacles, in a converted 3,500-square-foot warehouse. Caples rides alone so he can focus on adding tricks -- and confidence. "I got so much attention at X Games last year," he says. "I just hope I don't choke."


Brian Kachinsky
Age: 29
X Games event: BMX Freestyle Street
Home Facility: BMX park in Chicago
Highlight: Cool name: The Bakery

X Games
Nathan Perkel for ESPN The MagazineBrian Kachinsky at his recently-opened facility, The Bakery.

Here's a recipe for success: 1. Find a 100-year-old former bread factory; 2. Add ramps and interchangeable handrails; 3. Ride. That's what Kachinsky has done in his hometown. "I wanted to re-create what we ride in the streets," says Kachinsky, who won bronze in BMX Freestyle Street last year. "This place has exposed pipes, paint chipping off the ceiling. It's perfect." After opening the park in March, Kachinsky and his friends launched insidethebakery.com to showcase session videos with names like Preheating With ... and Baker's Dozen. What's next on his menu? Gold at X.

Alyssa Roenigk is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Alyssa Roenigk

ESPN The Magazine senior writer
Alyssa Roenigk is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com whose assignments covering action sports, Olympics and football have taken her to six continents and caused her to commit countless acts of recklessness. In 2012, she joined the X Games TV broadcast team and ordered additional pages for her passport. Follow her on Twitter at @espn_alyssa.