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Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: October 20, 4:54 PM ET
FMX comes back to San Francisco

By Chris Elliott
ESPN.com

Mike Mason
Mike Mason, center, won last year's FMX event at the Dew Tour's stop in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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When the 2012 Dew Tour Toyota City Championships rolls into San Francisco on Thursday, it will have been more than 12 years since Travis Pastrana scored a 99.00 in the first freestyle motocross event in the X Games. After a near perfect run and launching his bike into the San Francisco Bay, Pastrana and the sport of FMX went on to enjoy years of growth and success.

But we all know the story, when the economy took a turn for the worse, people and the businesses around them had to take a hard look at their spending. Unfortunately for freestyle motocross, that meant fewer Dew Tour events, which meant less coverage for riders, which in turn meant no sponsors. Without paying sponsors and only a few events a year to ride, the sport looked like it was about to be in big trouble. Like the X Games, Dew Tour events were always a date marked on a rider's calendar, not only because the Dew Tour staff and facilities always made for an enjoyable weekend, but also the event's media coverage was top notch and brought the sport into the mainstream where it has always belonged.

To Alli Sports and the Dew Tour's credit, they have fought to keep freestyle motocross a part of the tour in some way, including a best whip competitions the past couple of years and a speed & style event at last year's Salt Lake City stop.

"Alli Sports has always been cool with us FMX guys. We had our problems when it came to making FMX a regular discipline in the series, but that was nobody's fault. It's just so hard to predict wind, weather and to make sure we had the correct spaces at each venue," said Salt Lake City event winner and Dew Tour veteran Mike Mason. "Alli Sports has always tried to include us in one way or another, and that's really cool of them. I really feel this new format and the location is going to make for a really good event for both the riders and Alli Sports!"

The new format Mason is excited about has been dubbed the "FMX Triple Threat" competition. A contest, which features a format created by FMX legend Carey Hart, will take place directly in front of San Francisco's City Hall. The contest will have 10 riders competing against each other in three rounds. Each round will be a different event including no invert, best whip, and rider's choice. The rider with the highest combined score total from all three rounds will become the overall winner of the FMX Dew Cup.

Confirmed riders include Mason, Nate Adams, Kyle Loza, Lance Coury, Blake Williams, Todd Potter, X Games Freestyle gold medalist Taka Higashino and this year's X Games Freestyle bronze medalist Javier Villegas, who is eager to compete in this format.

"I am really excited to be invited to be part of this contest, can't wait to be there and show that besides good tricks, I can also whip a bike around," Villegas said.

It seems that riders are really eating up the "variety" side of the competition and Mason couldn't agree more, "I like the new format, I think it will be something fun for the riders and the fans. It adds a little variety instead of the same standard FMX run. I'm really looking forward to it!" With the sport gaining momentum again and having this, perhaps it wont' be too long before FMX becomes a regular on the Dew Tour once again.

"We're really excited for the FMX event at the Toyota City Championships. FMX has a great history and heritage at the Dew Tour, and we're thrilled to work with Carey Hart to develop the event. The San Francisco City Hall backdrop will provide one of the most spectacular backdrops of any event in the sport," said Chris Prybylo, vice president of events at Alli Sports.

Live streaming coverage of the Dew Tour will be shown online from 4-10 p.m. ET Thursday at allisports.com and TV coverage will air at 11 p.m. Thursday on NBC Sports Network.