Cool Under Pressure: Local Boy Chase Hawk and Oakley's Finest Shine at X Games Austin

RH-14Jun08-7858

His moment finally arrived. After dealing with injuries and spotty judging over the past couple years, Chase Hawk finally got his due. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time and place: at X Games in its inaugural year in a new town, Chase’s hometown of Austin, Texas.

Having competed in X Games since 2006, Hawk put on a show for his many friends and family members in the audience and all the Austinites. You could feel the enthusiasm for the local boy. The crowds got louder and rowdier with every trick. The top qualifier heading into the final, Hawk laid down what would prove to be the winning run with his first go, an 89.0, only to improve on the score with his second run with an 89.66. His runs, as always, were more about style and flow than technical trick combinations (or circus tricks). After his runs, he’d release a massive scream and send kisses to the crowd. Mid-way through his final run, which was just a victory lap, he ditched his bike onto the course, threw his helmet to the crowd and raised his arms in victory.

“The local support really had me psyched. Coming into the event, with it being in my hometown, I tried to stay cool, calm and collected. I knew what I had to do; I believed in the run I had in mind and went with it,” Hawk said afterward, still trying to take in the moment. “It hasn’t really set in. It just means the world to me to win in front of this crowd in this town.”

If there was any hesitation around the relocation from Los Angeles to Austin, those doubts were brushed aside from the first night, when Vert happened in downtown Austin, with the Texas Capitol Building in the background. The four blocks from the ramp to the capitol were packed with spectators. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd like this for BMX,” said Coco Zurita, between practice runs. “This is insane.”

By the time the event moved to Circuit of the Americas, the newly built track for Formula 1 and MotoGP races, the crowd numbers – and the humidity levels – only increased.

While Hawks’ was one of the best stories, X Games Austin was full of great moments. Dennis Enarson’s technical approach netted him a bronze medal in BMX Street, while Bob Burnquist had to battle wind and a stellar 14-year-old in Skate Big Air and settled for silver for his 26th X Games medal overall (still a record).

“So many people came out tonight. It was awesome,” Burnquist said. “Winning is what we’re here for. We want to get out there and make it happen, but when you see someone like Tom [Schaar] win, it’s all worth while because he deserves it. It’s his first gold medal, he’s been working hard and the fact that I have another medal is cool as well. Going for the medal count, whether it’s gold, silver or bronze; if I can keep it going, I’ll keep coming!”

In Skate Street, Luan Oliveira matched his silver medal from 2011, while Leticia Bufoni struggled to complete her gold medal-winning run and had to add a bronze to her trophy case. In FMX, Blake “Bilko” Williams managed to handle the wind and win a silver medal in Speed & Style.

The event, however, was more than just action sports. Big name music acts included Kanye West and Flaming Lips, Bad Religion and Mack Miller, while the X Fest was full of opportunities to keep your senses heightened and entertained. X Games evolved into full festival status.

Austin was a perfect host city. It had everything you could want from good, diverse food, to live music to happening bars and enough activities around town to keep anyone and everyone entertained. The only complaint: the humidity. That said, we can’t help but be excited for a return trip next year.