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Thursday, June 28, 2012
Updated: July 1, 12:51 PM ET
Bestwick six-peats in BMX Vert

By Devon O'Neil

LOS ANGELES -- Just when it seemed Jamie Bestwick finally might have some challengers in BMX Vert, he reminded everyone what it means to be untouchable. The 40-year-old routed his challengers by 14 points to complete just the second six-peat in X Games history Saturday night.

"What a contest," he said. "I can't express how the level of competition has come up over the years. I'm very grateful."

On a night that Bestwick didn't even win his qualifying heat, he left no doubt in the final, posting the top two scores of the competition (a pair of 43-pointers on his first two runs) to finish with 86 points. Steve McCann, who came within two points of Bestwick last year, was rattled after crunching the hardwood on a pair of failed no-handed 900 attempts. But even if he'd landed them, you got the feeling it wouldn't have mattered.

Bestwick soared three to four feet higher than anyone else in the final and linked technical maneuvers throughout his runs, including a rare new trick -- the downside tailwhip to turndown -- and one he hadn't broken out in seven years.

"The flair double whip, I haven't done that since the 2005 Best Trick at X Games," said Bestwick, an affable Briton who lives and trains in State College, Pa. "It was one of those nights where I totally doubted I could pull it, but I was like, OK, who's come to ride tonight. Everybody comes here to take down the champ. There were rumors that I spent the past six months locked away in some special training camp in the hills of Pennsylvania, and I figured if that's what you think, you can have one of my old ones first and then I'll start dishing out the new ones after that."

Bestwick, who's easily identified by his bulging, tattooed biceps, dominated his field as he has for most of the past decade. He has won 10 gold medals in Vert since 2000, and his 14-point victory margin matched his own X Games record set in 2009. He routinely skies 12 feet out of the pipe and airs in both directions better than any rider in the sport.

Despite his dominance, he still has plenty of tricks he opted not to throw Saturday night. "Everybody's forcing your hand all the time, and you need to be pulling tricks where you ultimately land at the top of the ramp every time," he said. "But I can save it for another day. I've got plenty more riding in me."

Vince Byron claimed silver, and Simon Tabron earned bronze after beating Bestwick by six points in the qualifying round. "This year I have my pump back," said Tabron, who missed time last year with a broken foot. "I didn't even think I was going to make the top six. Once I did that, I'd already won."

Tony Hawk and Andy Macdonald's unbeaten run in Skate Vert Doubles from 1997 to 2002 is the only other six-peat in X Games history.

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