Summer X sizzles with young stars
More than 200 athletes will descend upon Los Angeles this week and put on a high-flying show at X Games LA. Many of the competitors are still in high school. A few are even younger. Here's a look at some of the young guns hoping to land on the podium at X Games Los Angeles 2012:
Curren Caples, Ventura, Calif., 16: As the first X Games athlete to be born after the event launched in June 1995, Caples is a surf rat who throws massive frontside airs. During his X Games debut in 2010, Caples took the Skateboard Park contest by storm, finishing fourth against a stacked field. With an impressive ability to skate any terrain, Caples feels most natural skating transition and skates his private Red Bull warehouse park almost every night. His father and former pro surfer, Evan Caples, introduced him to skating at the young age of 4. The pro skateboarder is still an avid surfer, surfing a mile from his house every morning. Homeschooled, Caples will start 10th grade in the fall. With smooth surf-style lines in the park, Caples is looking to earn his first gold medal in Skateboard Park at X Games Los Angeles 2012.
Mitchie Brusco, Kirkland, Wash., 15: This skate prodigy was appearing on "The Today Show" at the age of 5 and went from watching X Games in the stands to being in the spotlight quicker than he knew it. Brusco already is setting a new standard in Skateboarding Big Air. Only the second person in history to land a 900 on a Big Air quarterpipe (behind Bob Burnquist), Brusco was the first to land a 900 in a contest. Only competing in pro competitions for a year, Brusco has a video part coming out for Almost Skateboards this summer. As an X Games rookie and the youngest athlete to compete in 2011, he barely missed the podium, finishing fifth in Skateboard Big Air. A sophomore at the new Woodward Everywhere online school, Brusco played in a football league for his city for the past five years. Brusco won his first medal at KIA X Games Asia in April with a silver medal in Vert. Brusco will compete in Big Air and Vert in Los Angeles.
Jagger Eaton, Mesa, Ariz., 11: Eaton is set to become the youngest athlete ever to compete at X Games, beating Nyjah Huston by four months. Eaton, who started skating MegaRamp when he was 9, will compete in the Skateboard Big Air competition. With only two years of experience, Eaton is easily landing backflips over the MegaRamp gap. This quick learner started skating at the skateboard and gymnastics training facility that his father runs at an early age. A versatile skater, Eaton rides park, street, MegaRamp, vert and bowl.
Pedro Barros, Florianopolis, Brazil, 17: Barros already is one of the most versatile skaters on the planet. As an X Games rookie in 2010's competition, Barros took Skateboarding Park by storm and won his first gold medal. In 2011, it was obvious he skated with a heavy surf influence with great flow and power, earning a silver medal in only two runs. This Brazilian has won prestigious vert and bowl contests against some of the world's best skaters. He won the widely acclaimed Pro-Tec Pool Party in both 2011 and 2012. Barros is on fire already this year, claiming first place in the Red Bull Skate Generation in his hometown, the Vans Bondi Bowl a Rama in Australia and the Wellington Bowl a Rama in New Zealand. Barros was named the No. 1 bowl skater on the World Cup Skateboarding 2010 rankings. Barros will be searching for his third medal at this year's competition.
Chaz Ortiz, Chicago, Ill., 18: Ortiz leads a normal teenage life when he's not filming commercials with Gatorade and Kellogg's or winning major skateboard contests. He was the top qualifier at X Games in 2010, but just missed the podium in both 2010 and 2011. After winning his first overall Dew Tour title at just 14 years old in 2008, Ortiz returned in 2010 to win the Dew Tour Championship event, plus the overall title again. Ortiz has an amazing amount of raw talent and has a new Zoo York video part coming out later this year. He will compete in Skateboard Street at Los Angeles X Games 2012.
Tom Schaar, Malibu, Calif., 12: Taking up skateboarding when he was just 4, Schaar entered his first contest at the age of 5. Now 12, Schaar is the latest young skate phenom to come out of Woodward. Featured in Disney and ESPN's Next X series in the summer of 2009, he became the youngest athlete ever invited to compete at the Maloof Money Cup that summer. He also competed in the Dew Tour skateboard competitions in 2008 and 2009 and skated a demo at X Games 15. Schaar is known worldwide as the kid wonder who became the first athlete to land a 1080. A few weeks later, Schaar earned his first X Games invite and became the first athlete to land a 1080 in competition -- off the mini-MegaRamp quarterpipe -- a trick that won him the gold at KIA X Games Asia in April. Entering seventh grade in the fall, Schaar attends traditional school in Malibu. He will compete in Big Air in Los Angeles.
Trey Wood, Queen Creek, Ariz., 11: As the third-youngest competitor in X Games history at 11 years old, Wood is not only an X Games rookie, but this competition will be his first professional contest. Trey started skating at age 7 and rode the MegaRamp for the first time at age 10. A student at a charter school in Arizona, Wood will enter sixth grade in the fall. This young gun's proudest accomplishment to date is landing his first McTwist at the Venice Dog Town Bowl during the Venice Am contest in the fall of last year. As a careful and calculated competitor who won't try a trick until he's ready, this pint-sized competitor will awe the crowd with his massive tricks in the Skateboard Big Air competition at X Games Los Angeles 2012.
Nyjah Huston, Davis, Calif., 17, Competing at the X Games since he was just 11, Huston's combination of natural talent and consistency make him the young gun to beat in the Skateboard Street competition. Huston entered X Games 17 as the defending back-to-back Skateboard Street silver medalist. In 2010, Huston also added Maloof Money Cup Overall Champion, Street League Arizona stop winner and Overall Champion to his resume. He defended his overall Street League Championship title in 2011, winning all three stops before grabbing his first X Games gold. In 2011, Huston also rejoined Element Skateboards, released his latest pro skateboard model and latest video part. Winning every competition that he entered except one, Huston capped 2011 with three TransWorld awards for "Best Video Part," "New Era Reader's Choice" and "Best Street."
Alex Sorgente, Lake Worth, Fla., 14: Sorgente is a versatile skater who competes in both vert and bowl. Now adding Skateboard Big Air to his resume, Sorgente will make his X Games debut this year. Rolling into his first MegaRamp in May, Alex had an innate talent to throw tricks on this massive ramp. Alex's nickname is TPM (Tricks Per Minute) because of his mindset to skate "trick to trick" without a moment of lull in between. Sorgente won the Gladiator Award for being the most consistent skater at the Vans Off the Wall Spring Classic this year in Italy. Sorgente will look to shake up the competition in Skateboard Big Air at the X Games Los Angeles 2012.
Chad Kerley, San Diego, Calif., 18: Fresh out of high school, Kerley will make his first X Games appearance in BMX Freestyle. Kerley started to compete in BMX racing at a young age and slowly made the transition toward freestyle, hitting the local skateparks any chance he got. He began competing in freestyle in 2008 and then quickly turned pro in 2010. Last October, he won a competitive video contest called "The Hunt" that really put him on the map, earning him recognition wherever he goes. Not the only notable win in 2011, Kerley also won Best Trick at Simpel Session. This May, he hosted the very well-received Chad Kerley Vitaminwater Invitational Street contest at Brian Kachinsky's private indoor riding facility in Chicago. With his KIA X Games Asia 2012 gold medal, Kerley will look to take the gold at this year's X Games Los Angeles 2012.
Pat Casey, Placentia, Calif., 17: With second-place finishes in both Dirt and Park at the FISE Experience this May, Casey is an up-and-coming young athlete who is rattling the playing field in the BMX Freestyle world. Casey packs his runs with some of the most difficult tricks in the game. His signature trick bag includes an eye-catching stylized 360 spin that is so off-axis that it is nearly a backflip. One of the most innovative Freestyle BMX riders to date, Casey has landed two first-ever tricks within the past year. Casey's brand new tricks include the decade backflip and the double decade. With new tricks up his sleeve, Casey will look to land atop the Park podium at X Games Los Angeles 2012.
Daniel Sandoval, Corona, Calif., 17: Sandoval has quickly made a name for himself on the international BMX scene, traveling to events all over the world and firing out first-time tricks that guarantee he will be remembered. After sticking the first-ever double tailwhip 720 and tailwhip to barspin 720 in the last seven months, all eyes are on him to see what he will deliver next. He's making his rookie appearance at X Games this year and competing in BMX Park, but he's already logged solid finishes so far in 2012, in addition to earning his high school diploma. Sandoval finished second at the Toronto BMX Jam and FISE Costa Rica, barely missing the podium with fourth-place finishes at the Simple Session PRO Finals and the FISE Experience Park and earned a third-place finish at the FISE Experience Mini Ramp. Home schooled, Sandoval graduated in early 2012. At X Games Los Angeles 2012, expect this Southern California local to make a big impact.
Brett Banasiewicz, South Bend, Ind., 16: A local legend in the Midwest for years, Banasiewicz has already made a name for himself in BMX Park. Turning pro at 13, Banasiewicz had a breakout year in 2009, earning multiple podium finishes, including a third-place finish at the Salt Lake City Dew Tour stop. He scored four Top-3 Park finishes from February to May of 2010 with big wins at ASA BMX Triples, BMX Masters and the Dew Tour stops in Portland and Chicago. Banasiewicz made his X Games BMX Freestyle Park debut in 2010 and barely missed the podium. Also in 2010, he became the first to land a non-MegaRamp double frontflip in competition. Last year, he stomped a brand new trick he will likely have in the arsenal for X Games Los Angeles, the frontflip tailwhip late no-hander. Banasiewicz also plays golf for Washington (South Bend, Ind.) High School. As he continues to progress at an unbelievable pace -- he already has earned medals at four of his five competitions this year -- he will be looking to score his first X Games medal.
Stevie Churchill, Bristol, Conn., 18: Churchill made his break onto the BMX scene when he was discovered doing advanced tricks with original flair. Not just advanced tricks on ramps or street obstacles, but in bunny hops on flat ground. As a well-rounded rider, he has developed the technical side of his riding as well as throwing impressive tricks down massive stair sets. This May he won the rail hop portion of the Chad Kerley Vitaminwater Invitational, took second place on the pyramid obstacle and third place on the island portion. He may be an X Games rookie, but with his explosive riding style, he won't be lost in the shadows of the BMX Freestyle Street competition at X Games Los Angeles 2012.
Meghan Rutledge, 17, Picton, Australia, Named Australia's fastest female motocross racer of 2011, Rutledge recently moved her talent to the United States to race in the Women's MotoCross racing circuit. This 2011 Australian Women's National Motocross Champion has competed with the guys for the past three years in her country's Super X series. She also graduated from high school in 2011. At the opening round of the AMA Women's Motocross Championship, Rutledge's first race in America, she won moto two, becoming the only rider other than Jessica Patterson and Ashley Fiolek to win since August. This tough competitor is looking to medal in her rookie debut at Los Angeles X Games 2012.
Steward Baylor, Belton, S.C., 18: The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Baylor was the 2011 GNCC XC2 Pro Lites Champion. He is a well-rounded technical rider whose best quality is his strength and speed. Baylor is new to the Moto X Enduro X discipline. Strong out of the gate in 2012, Baylor has won first place in three of the four rounds of the AMA Rekluse National Enduro Series and second in the other round. Steward is currently first in the overall rankings by a landslide. Even if he were to score a zero at the next event, he would still remain in first place by two points. Not only is he stomping the competition at the AMA Rekluse National Enduro Series, but Baylor is also standing in first in the overall point standings for the GNCC XC2 Class. Graduating home school in 2012, this young competitor is looking to shake up the competition in his rookie year at X Games Los Angeles 2012.
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