Out of the elements, athletes promise 'biggest show you've ever seen' at X Games Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS — U.S. Bank Stadium is big.
The old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which stood where the new stadium now stands, could fit inside the main competition area of U.S. Bank Stadium. And now X Games athletes are salivating at the chance to compete on action sports' biggest stage, in a really big venue.
"This is one serious, brand-new stadium," said Colton Satterfield, a BMX Big Air rider from Salt Lake City. "To have all this laid out completely flat in one spot like this... normally, when you put in a Big Air ramp, it takes up the whole floor. I walked in here and thought they shrunk the ramp; there's no way a building could be this big."
U.S. Bank Stadium's not-so-cozy confines takes the guesswork of weather out of the picture. Heavy rains and winds cancelled the skateboard and BMX Big Air finals at X Games Austin (Texas) in 2016.
"We'd be out there at the Circuit of the Americas and it would be a beautiful day, and then 30 minutes later, the X Games is getting evacuated," said veteran BMX vert athlete Jamie Bestwick. "You know, that's something that hard for many of us, because we train really hard all year long and ride many contests and stay off the injury lists so we can come to X Games, compete against the best in the world, and prove we are the best in the world. Austin was always a challenge."
Even when dry, outdoor competitions can be subject to havoc with variable winds.
"It all comes down to the elements for us," said Australian Moto X competitor Kyle Baldock. "You could drop in and get no wind, or you can drop in and get a massive gust and that's the reason you crash. To be inside for me, it's next level.
"And to see these boys go at it on the mega (Big Air ramp), they're gonna go so high because they're not worried about how much wind there will be... this is going to be a big banger of a session for all of us."
"For us to be indoors this year is amazing, and there's not many stadiums in the entire world that can facilitate what's happening here," added Moto X rider Jackson Strong. "We're just stoked to not be out in the wind."
Well, not everybody is stoked. The Harley-Davidson Flat Track racing will be outdoors at the Mall of America in Bloomington, and the skateboard and BMX vert ramp stands outside the stadium on the Medtronic Plaza.
That could be a boon for Bestwick, who is nursing a back injury.
"I couldn't be any happier about being outside in this wind," Bestwick said, tongue-in-cheek. "(My back) is not letting me pump as hard as I normally would. Height is kind of my forte, and has been for years, but right now I'm kind of struggling with that. If the winds keep up, that should keep the guys at about 6 feet, and we'll have a contest; I'll be back in the game.
"Thank you for putting the vert ramp outdoors, us 46-year-olds are hanging on by a thread."