Since its inception in Valencia, Spain in 2001, taking the sport to the ultimate level of competition and combining it with creative orchestration at iconic global locations has been at the heart of Red Bull X-Fighters. The series climbed to new heights in 2008 with spectacular contests in the bull fighting arenas of Mexico City and Madrid, the stone quarry of Wuppertal in Germany, the Sambodromo parade ground in Rio de Janeiro, a purpose-built rodeo arena in Texas and an historic stadium in Warsaw – which was brought back to life for a day before it was brought down by the wrecking ball.
Despite the breathtaking staging and spectacular shows, the sporting battles remained at the center of attention and the dazzling competition is what left behind the lasting memories around the world - the duels between eventual champion Mat Rebeaud of Switzerland against Americans Jeremy Stenberg and Jeremy Lusk; Rebeaud’s incredible final round in Fort Worth with 10 backflips; the first 360 by Sweden’s Frederik Johansson in Madrid; Norwegian Andre Villa’s horrifying crash in Rio; and the thrilling come-from-behind challenge by young Spaniard Dany Torres, who crowned his strong season with a victory in Warsaw.
The successful format last year of Rookies versus Heroes has been developed further this year, according to Tes Sewell, the series’ competition director: “Instead of four top-seeded riders, we’ll have eight this year who will duel it out with the local challengers.”
The top eight riders are: last year’s champion Mat Rebeaud (SUI), Robbie Maddison (AUS), Jeremy Lusk (USA), Jeremy Stenberg (USA), Dany Torres (ESP), Eigo Sato (JPN), Thomas Pagés (FRA) and Andre Villa (NOR).
The expectations of defending champion Rebeaud are high. “It’s breathtaking and insane how fast the sport is growing,” he said.
“Red Bull X-Fighters is an amazing series,” said Maddison, the series runner-up. “I’m excited to visit the new locations, and after coming so close to winning the championship last year, it’s on in 2009!”