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Monday, January 10, 2005
Updated: May 11, 3:32 PM ET
Odds On: Moto X Best Trick

By Swifty Stevens
EXPN.com

Chuck Carothers (2-1)
It's a proven fact that the Carolla beats the 360, so if Huck-A-Chuck sticks his mid-air pirouette, he's as close to a lock as you can get—and with Nate Adams out with a broken femur, there may not be a 360 in the field anyway. It's Lucky Chucky now, but as Chuck has admitted, he's only attempted the trick six times, including the one and only time on dirt at '04 summer X. Still, if he's got the trick dialed— and he's oozing confidence, come hell, altitude and live TV—he's the golden boy again. But if his success was more luck than pure aptitude (and lest we forget, he did almost miss on his landing), Carolla-the-sequel may be the Carolla-the-Crash-ola.
Can '05 summer X champ Chuck Carothers take his super show to the snow? Or will his Carolla sequel be the Crash-o-la?
Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg (3-1)
The roller coaster of Twitch's career has taken him from a ball of untapped teenage talent to uncontrolled freak show on two wheels to an effervescent and focused competitive wrecking machine. He has ungodly natural talent, is essentially fearless and is heartwarmingly fueled to do right by his finance and little girl. So what's not to like? He's got every backflip variation in the book (including a bunch no one else has), experience in the snowy climes, and while he can practically mail in his podium finish, going gold is still one Carolla away.

Jeff "Ox" Kargola (5-1)
The big man from San Clemente probably got jobbed last year at Summer X. He should have at least finished ahead of Deegan's wobbly 360 with his backflip superman seat grab, a never-before-seen trick up to that moment. But the desert railbirds say Kargola is concerned about going insanely big with something new over the inconsistent ice jumps of Aspen, a world away from the cozy sunshine and calming predictability of the ramps and dirt at the Mulisha compound where he normally rides. He's a good shot for a podium spot with solid combo backies over big gaps, but there are a couple purebreds ahead of him and he has to overcome his own doubts.

Caleb Wyatt (6-1)
The defending champ is where you want to put your money if you like longshots. Now working a nine-to-five and only riding on weekends, he's your quintessential wreck-or-win guy. Rumors have him doing a surfer-style body varial or even hucking the double backster to launch him back into the record books. This guy scares us bad: He either gets a medal or wrecks in practice, and his wrecks are ugly and dangerous. But he's still among the walking, living and riding, and with plenty of X experience and confidence in his much-rung belfry, back-to-back golden orbs is within his grasp, which would be a winter X first.
The first rider ever to pull a backflip, Caleb Wyatt finally won an XG gold last winter. And he's not ready to turn over the title just yet.
Brian Deegan (6-1)
His is the realm of the unknown. Since his horrendous crash at Winter X '03, The Metal Mulisha General has not been himself. He's been backflipping and riding, and working out like a banshee. But there are plenty of distractions, too: a business and his own MM tour in Oz starting in March. But more than anything, he has to face a big, white, icy demon from last year's wrist-and-femur-snapping 360 debacle. Even if he does pull a 360 over one of the big gaps, it still has to beat Chuck's Carolla, and that's a long shot given the judge's past predilections.

Ronnie Faisst (8-1)
Hard to imagine that being able to pull one-handed 75-foot backflips makes a guy just "solid," but that's about the story here. Ronnie has kicked up his game to the elite ranks, but he's still not at the top of the elite. A skilled, stylish rider, he's top-five for sure, but he's more on the cusp of the podium than standing on top.

Dayne Kinnaird (10-1)
These long odds are misleading—he may be a long shot for gold, but if there were a "place" bet, he'd be short dollars for the podium, where he's stood twice at Winter X in the past. He's a veteran of the cold and snow, and though he's originally from the sunny climes of the Oz, he shines in the Aspen altitude with complex, groundbreaking combos. Odds say he probably will do so again this year.
The million-dollar question: Will Aussie Dayne Kinnaird's inventive combos land him on the podium yet again?
Beau Bamburg (10-1)
Ever since his horrendous crash at summer X '03, Bamburg has pulled back a notch. He's still flipping, and he knows his way around the Aspen ice rink, but he seems more intent on going just big enough to do well, but not throwing caution to the wind to win at all costs. Ten minutes of semi-convulsing on the Staples Center floor after a failed backflip to sterilizer will do that to you. He'll be ready to ride hard, but also to ride away. You can't have that mentality if you want the shiny stuff.

Dustin Miller (12-1)
Expect a sick, complex, mind-boggling combo from the little man on wheels and competition veteran. That put Dayne Kinnaird on the WX podium last year, but now there's a battalion of backflippers taking that trick to a new level and fancy dancy combos won't cut it. He's a long shot for the podium and no shot for gold.

Ronnie Renner (12-1)
Renner will establish himself as the solid, skilled totally professional rider he is. But he's not a best trick specialist. He's a showman, though, and you can count on Rendawg to get his camera time—even if it's not with a medal around his neck. He might throw down the sickest whip ever seen at Winter X, and riding purists will deservedly applaud, but no metal medal for this Florida boy.
Ronnie Renner may not bring the toughest flip combos, but he packs the sickest whip and enough showmanship for the entire 12-rider field.
Drake McElroy (15-1)
Rising star to workingman's hero ... such is the saga of DMC. At one time, he was the next world winner, nabbing a life-changing Freestyle bronze back in Philly '02. After an aborted effort to master the backflip, he's settled in to take his steady, smooth, eye-pleasing style on the road. He's a stalwart on the IFMA tour, and rides consistently impressive and clean. But he never blows people's minds, and that's the very essence of a best trick comp.

Brian Dowdy (20-1)
When you meet him, it's clear he's more alter boy than freestylin' hellman. No one questions whether he has skills—he does—just not the kind, or the mind, that cause you to conjure up the psycho, wheelchair-taunting tricks it takes to win an X Games gold. He'll prove himself (as he did recently at the FMX Riot, when he rode natural terrain for the first time) and he'll make new friends and kiss any babies in the crowd, but he doesn't have to worry about prepping for post-jump victory interviews.