The first Moto X event of X Games 17, Moto X Step Up, went off without a hitch on Thursday evening inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, and Red Bull’s own Ronnie Renner captured his second-straight silver medal in the event after battling Matt Buyten at record heights.
Starting with six finalists at the 31-foot mark, riders and fans settled into the Step Up groove with a couple rounds at “gimme” heights. It wasn’t until the bar was raised to 34’6” that the first finalist, Todd Potter, was eliminated after two failed attempts. A foot later (35’6”), four-time X Games Step Up gold medal winner Tommy Clowers was unable to get over the bar, as well, reducing the field to four riders.
The remaining competitors -- Brian Deegan, Myles Richmond, Renner and Buyten -- all got their names temporarily scribbled into the X Games record books for clearing the, then, new Step Up record at 35’6”, and proceeded to 36’6” to continue the showdown.
The new height -- a full foot and a half above the previous record set by Clowers back in 2000 --claimed the first two riders to attempt it (Deegan and Richmond). Up next, Renner proceeded to throw down a near perfect <bold>take-off aboard his Red Bull KTM to stomp 36’6” on his first attempt<bold>, sending the Staples Center fans to their feet. Behind Renner, Buyten was unsuccessful during his first go, but cleared it with ease in run number two. With Deegan and Richmond now eliminated, the stage was set for a Renner/Buyten head-to-head matchup for Step Up gold.
First to take on the 37-foot mark, Renner dropped the hammer on his 350 SX-F, but was unable to get both wheels over the bar. A carbon copy of the first run, Renner once again came up just a hair short in his second attempt, leaving the door wide open for Buyten.
Officially setting a new X Games and World Record, Buyten cleaned the bar in his first attempt at 37 feet, and secured his fourth (second in a row) Step Up gold medal in the process. Buyten and Clowers now sit tied with four Step Up golds each, and Renner left X Games 17 with his second-straight silver.
“I’m happy with the silver tonight,” Renner commented after the event. “Of course I’d love to be leaving here with the gold, but Buyten is always a fierce competitor, and I’m really stoked about the new heights we were able to push each other over.”