Taka Higashino Wins Hometown FMX Showdown in Japan

Red Bull X-Fighters makes its debut in Japan with local rider Higashino besting the competition.
By Tim Sturtridge

Japan’s Taka Higashino pulled off a spectacular victory over Tom Pages at the first-ever Red Bull X-Fighters stop in Japan, giving his home country a fascinating first taste of FMX. The result means that after the fourth stop of the six-round 2013 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour we have seen four different winners rise to the top of the podium.

On an evening that put the spotlight on Japanese traditions, Higashino had the excited crowd behind him every jump of the way through the quarterfinals to the semifinals and into the final against Pages. After dominating Qualifying on Friday, it was the Frenchman who was the hot favorite to win the main event.

Japan's Daisuke Suzuki makes his World Tour debut
Japan's Daisuke Suzuki makes his World Tour debut © Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

When the final got underway however, it was the 28-year-old Japanese ace who had the run of his life. It was an emotional night for Higashino, who grew up just 15 minutes away from the breathtaking venue next to the majestic Osaka Castle in the Nishinomaru Garden.

Higashino may have left his hometown of Osaka seven years ago for the FMX hotbed of California but his performance on Saturday night made him an instant hometown hero.

“I can’t believe it,” he said after winning the nail-biting contest. “Tom and I had a great final and I didn’t think that I had won. It is an honor to win here.”

Pages was also rewarded for his own spectacular performance by winning the Swatch Best Move award for his crowd-pleasing Double Nac Indian Whip. He also aced the Flair, the Volt and the Special Flip.

Defending champ Levi Sherwood comes up short
Defending champ Levi Sherwood comes up short © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

It was a disappointing night for defending World Tour champion Levi Sherwood of New Zealand and 2011 champion Dany Torres of Spain as both riders were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Osaka Results:
1. Taka Higashino (JPN)
2. Tom Pages (FRA)
3. Adam Jones (USA)
4. Rob Adelberg (AUS)
5. Levi Sherwood (NZL)
6. Dany Torres (ESP)
7. Javier Villegas (CHL)
8. David Rinaldo (FRA)
9. Josh Sheehan, (AUS)
10. Daisuke Suzuki (JPN)

World Tour Standings:
1. Pages 325 points
2. Adelberg 265
3. Torres 245
4. Sherwood 190
5. Higashino 165

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