Report by Goba
Fierce competition, insane innovation, extreme conditions, were the main ingredients that riders faced in the eye of the storm earlier today at the final round of Red Bull X-Fighters on Cockatoo Island, Sydney. After a week of picture perfect blue sky days leading into the main event riders battled under dark grey clouds and against heavy cross winds to see who had the goods to take out the 2012 X-Fighters crown, and after seven epic head-to-head match-ups it was the cool head of Kiwi Levi Sherwood who came out on top to claim his first Australian round win and overall title.
Due to the rapidly changing conditions throughout the day leading to the start of the final X-Fighters round organisers decided to shorten the program and kick off the event with the quarter finals so they could crown the winner before the weather turned too nasty.
Josh Sheehan came into the day a little rusty but rode solid to finish on the podium. Photo: Ben Dillaway/FRMX
2011 Sydney X-Fighters winner Josh Sheehan wasted no time in his first quarter final run against 2011 X-Fighters series champion Dany Torres when he stomped a Double Flip to seal his transfer to the semis and in doing so sent out the message to his competitors that strong cross-winds wasn't going to slow him down from throwing down one of the gnarliest tricks in the sport!
The vocal Aussie crowd went berserk at Sheeny's feat, and next out was Jacko Strong against Japan's Taka Higashino, and not to be out done Jacko went straight in deep and busted out a perfect Front Flip to kick off his run and followed up with a solid stack of tricks that piled the pressure on Higashino who unfortunately crashed out big time after he landed a little crossed-up from a Ruler Flip.
Tom Pages has been pushing the sport in a new direction this season, winning without Backflips! Photo: Ben Dillaway/FRMX
Frenchman Tom Pages delivered an incredible and innovative performance in his quarter run against Japan's Eigo Sato. Pages ripped out a Flair straight out of the box, a Volt, and 360 to secure his spot in the semis. In fairness to Sato it was brave of him to even compete after his huge crash in qualifying the previous day, and it just shows how tough these elite FMX riders are.
Cam "Sincs" Sinclair had his work cut out against Levi Sherwood, especially after limited preparation leading into the event. Sincs produced a solid run that included a Flair, but it wasn't enough to beat Sherwood, who used his perfect execution and stylish tricks that included a Barhop to Superman Flip to advance through to the final four.
Jacko Strong finished 4th thanks to tricks like this crazy One Handed Front Flip. Photo: Ben Dillaway/FRMX
Everyone was excited about the chances of seeing the tied series leaders Sherwood and Pages duke it out in the final, but first they had to overcome the Aussies Sheehan and Strong in the semi's, which was no easy challenge. Jacko once again blew everyone away by throwing another clean Front Flip on his first jump, but this time one handed! Pages watched anxiously as Jacko's run unfolded without any mistakes, just solid clean tricks, and when he took to the course he stepped up with a One Handed Flair, another textbook Volt, 360, insane tweaked Double Nac Indy to name a few to just outgun Jacko and advance to the final.
It was do-or-die for Sherwood against Sheehan, as if he faltered his chances of taking the overall crown would be over. Sheehan started out strong, but tried a Baby Flip over a small berm and dropped his bike after landing, then seemed to lose his focus by crashing over the same jump as Higashino executing a Ruler Flip. This meant Sherwood only had to produce a mistake free run to secure his spot against Pages, and that he did with a very cool head.
The final showdown saw Pages on the course first and the judges were sweating at the thought of trying to pick the two apart. Pages started again with his Flair, but then made a mistake returning from his Volt and landed squirly losing control of his bike. He jumped straight back on but the crash seemed to affect his focus and rhythm throwing in a Dead Sailor, then messing up a straight Flip over the super kicker that saw him hit the deck hard, but he still managed to walk away with the crowd cheering him for his gutsy riding.
2012 Red Bull X-Fighters champ Levi Sherwood KOD Indy Flipping in the final. Photo: Ben Dillaway/FRMX
Once again Sherwood found himself in the box seat, all he had to do was bang out a killer run with no mistakes and the 2012 X-Fighters crown was his. He kicked off with a big KOD Indy Flip, then smashed out another 13 tricks including Deadbody Flip, Barhop to Superman Flip, Turntable, Double Nac, SeatGrab Hart Attack Flip, all tricks he knows backwards and executed under pressure perfectly to ensure the crown was his.
Congratulations to Levi Sherwood for winning his first Red Bull X-Fighters title, and third round win of the season. Today he demonstrated trick perfection under testing conditions against a field of riders bringing X Games best tricks into freestyle runs and pushing the sport to a higher level, which was insane. Bring on 2013 is all we can say!
Three Red Bull riders celebrate on the podium, Josh Sheehan, Levi Sherwood and Tom Pages. Photo: Ben Dillaway/FRMX
Overall Round Results
1. Levi Sherwood
2. Thomas Pagès
3. Josh Sheehan
4. Jackson Strong
5. Eigo Sato
6. Taka Higashino
7. Dany Torres
8. Cameron Sinclair
9. Blake Williams
10. Javier Villegas
11. Todd Potter
For series reults log on to www.redbullxfighters.com