X Games organizer ESPN announced it is discontinuing the extreme sports event’s Moto X and Snowmobile Best Trick competitions.
The announcement comes six weeks after the death of Freestyle Snowmobile competitor Caleb Moore who succumbed to injuries on following a crash Jan. 24 at the Winter X Games at Aspen. Moore was attempting a backflip on his snowmobile but instead under-rotated. Moore was thrown from his sled which, after catching on the ground, landed on him. Moore was able to get up under his own strength and was treated for a concussion, but it later turned out he suffered from a heart contusion and a complication with his brain. Moore died Jan. 31, a week after the accident.
ESPN says the decision to cancel the Moto X and Snowmobile Best Trick events was not directly tied to Moore’s death.
“Moto X Best Trick and Snowmobile Best Trick were not dropped in response to what happened in Aspen,” says an ESPN spokesman. “This decision was under consideration before Aspen, and, in fact, our review of Snowmobile Freestyle continues.”
In an official statement, ESPN explains the decision, saying: “This change reflects our decision to focus on motor sports disciplines which feature athletes who also compete in multiple, world-class competitions [e.g., professional events and tours] reflecting the highest degree of athlete participation, competitive development and the global nature of our X Games franchise. Over the past 18 years we have made more than 60 changes to our competition lineups at X Games events to capture the evolution of the sport and these continue that growth.”
The Best Trick competition has been a part of the X Games since 2001. Over the years, it has produced a number of memorable stunts including Travis Pastrana performing the first-ever double backflip to win the Moto X Best Trick competition in 2006.
“Best trick was my favorite event both as a competitor and a spectator,” says Pastrana, an 11-time X Games gold medalist. “It was a staple of progression in FMX but also the most risky part of it. A lot of athletes would cross from other disciplines or learn a special skill specifically for best trick. Usually these athletes were capable of landing their trick in a foam pit or on special set up but under pressure, they rarely did which added to the dangerousness of it. Either way I was a fan of this event and will be sad to see it go.”