LOS ANGELES -- With his undefeated streak in X Games BMX Street hanging in the balance Friday, Garrett Reynolds delivered the highest scoring run of a scintillating final on the last run of the event. It was enough to clinch his fifth straight gold medal and barely hold off X Games rookie Chad Kerley. Since there have only been five BMX Street events at the X Games so far, Reynolds remains the only athlete to win gold in BMX Street history.
Before seeing his final score, Reynolds collapsed on the concrete, exhausted from the heat. Moments later, he paid homage to the 18-year-old upstart from San Diego, who pushed him to his talent's limit.
"Chad Kerley killed it," said Reynolds, a New Jersey rider who won his first gold at age 17. "If it was up to me, I would've given it to him."
Reynolds' final-run score of 43 points gave him a two-run total of 85, two better than Kerley, who graduated high school just days before competing here.
Technically speaking, the line between Reynolds' runs and Kerley's was razor thin. If one trick sealed it for Reynolds, it was the all-or-nothing wallride 540 barspin he stuck in his final run. He was the only athlete to land the trick Friday. He also combined style with an exponentially high degree of difficulty, enough that he offset a few uncharacteristic slips along the way.
Kerley, for his part, clearly was not disappointed with silver. He pumped his fist and flashed a smile the width of his handlebars after Reynolds was announced as the champion. He impressed from start to finish on his bike, linking fluid runs with flatland-influenced tricks as well as big drops and versatility matched only by Reynolds.
"It's pretty risky to do manuals and balancing and stuff like that," Kerley said, "but I think that's kind of what separates me, too."
"I've got nothing but respect for Chad," Reynolds said, panting from his final run. "The heat, I'm just dying. I can barely talk right now; that's how tired I am."
Veteran Dakota Roche claimed bronze for the second straight year.