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Friday, July 8, 2011
Updated: July 30, 5:26 PM ET
Ricky Dietrich: change is good

By BJ Smith
ESPN.com

Ricky Dietrich is looking for X gold at XG17.

To just about anyone, Ricky Dietrich had the life: A title in the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS), a title in the AMA EnduroCross Series, a fat factory contract with Monster Energy Kawasaki, a bright future and plenty of accolades and respect. But it wasn't enough.

Dietrich earned the 2006 WORCS crown at just 18 years old. In 2008, the one-off Endurocross event in Vegas spawned its own racing series, and Dietrich romped to the first EnduroCross season title. Kawasaki re-signed him for bigger money. "I was set for the next 10 years," he says. "Kawasaki built their whole off-road team around me."

But Dietrich wanted more, so he threw away the sure money and security for a shot at one more dream -- to be a motocross racer. He made the switch and is proving himself so far in 2011 with solid top-five rides on the AMA Motocross series against the fastest riders in the world. He has a lot at stake.

"Let's put it this way: I took an 80 percent pay cut to race motocross, straight up," says Dietrich, who walked away from his factory off-road deal for the fledgling Rockstar Energy Drink Valli Motorsports Yamaha team.

He's happy with his decision to risk it all for moto, but he's coming back for one more off-road event: X Games Enduro X. And he's looking for a medal; his skills are still sharp. Dietrich admits he attacks Endurocross tracks like a motocrosser anyway, trying to turn sections of obstacles into jumps. He especially excels on the faster, more open courses, and the XG Enduro X layout lends itself to that.

It may be a stretch to think Dietrich can go from wide-open, big-air motocross back to the slow, technical riding of Enduro X, but Dietrich got this far by believing in himself, and he doesn't harbor any doubts. "Now that I'm finally getting my dream of racing motocross, I feel like I have one of the widest resumes out there of any rider," he says. "I would love nothing more than to add an X Games medal."