Three fearless American riders are hoping to use to their advantage the biggest course in the history of the Red Bull X-Fighters that was carved into the hills of Southern California on Saturday at the second stop of the $1 million 2012 World Tour.
Todd Potter, Wes Agee and Nick Dunne are not considered to be among the top favorites in Glen Helen but all three have been riding well in training and are full of confidence that they can use the track built to suit the American style and a big home crowd to their advantage.
“This is the sickest FMX course in all of freestyle history,” said Potter, who was sixth in the season opener in Dubai but is confident he can end up on top of the podium on Saturday. “I’m here to win. I think this is definitely a good course for us Americans. It’s big and bad and it’s got a little of everything. We’re used to going out in hills like this and riding. It’s not just a flat little parking lot where they build two ramps. It’s different out here. It’s nice.”
Potter, who won a silver medal at the 2011 X-Games for best whip, is one of the most technical riders in the world, according to Travis Pastrana. Potter, who will be doing his fourth Red Bull X-Fighters event here, is in a pack of second generation FMX riders who are giving the established stars a run for their money.
Also hoping to challenge the world’s elite is Wes Agee, 23, who like Potter is from the nearby Southern California town of Temecula, the sport’s hotbed just 45 minutes away from Glen Helen. “This track is made for Americans,” said Agee, who got a wildcard entry for his first-ever Red Bull X-Fighters event. “We’ve got a lot of similar jumps in Southern California. This kind of rugged terrain is all over Southwest America. There are a lot of nice hills with jumps similar to this. That’ll give us a little bit of an advantage.”
The massive course, with its towering 60-foot-high step up and step down, intimidated many of the international riders. But the Americans used to big jumps like that quickly felt comfortable on the big hill – not worried about the perils and pain of falling back down 60 feet of a steep hill if they fail to reach the rim.
“It’s pretty intimidating when you first look at the step up but some of us are now flipping on it already so it’s definitely manageable,” said Agee, who insists with a straight face that he came to Glen Helen to win. Agee said that he was holding back on some of his best tricks in training because he did not want the international stars to snatch them away from him.
Nick Dunne, 23, is from the Northern California town of Redding. Also taking part for the first time, Dunne said he would be surprised if the three Americans in the field did not all do well on this home track with its uniquely American-style jumps.
“From what everyone’s been saying us local boys should have an advantage here because we’re living around these kinds of hills and hitting jumps like this all the time,” said Dunne, who spent a lot of his time in training working on the tricky 60-foot step down – a plunge down the dirt cliff. “I’m feeling really comfortable out here. I’m just not going to stress myself, ride my dirt bike and do my tricks.”