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X Games Step Up Report

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Ronnie Renner was pissed. Ricky Carmichael's pants were torn, his jersey covered in dirt, and his eyes a bit glossed over. They had both tried to loft their motocross bikes over the 35-foot pole in Moto X Step Up at X Games 15. Neither could do it, thus ending the drawn out high drama before an overflow crowd in Staples Center. The competition director deemed the contest over, and two gold medals were handed out.

  • Ronnie Renner used this technique the clear the bar on a two-stroke and tied Ricky Carmichael for the gold.
  • Ricky Carmichael cleared the same height as Renner and got the other gold.
  • Matt Buyten was third in the event.
  • Jeremy McGrath was competitive yet again in Step Up.
  • Kevin Windham competed in Step Up for the first time and did pretty well, but wasn't on the level of RC and Renner.
"I guess I'm a co-gold-medal winner," said an irked Renner. "Who calls themselves a co-gold medal winner? I mean, I wanted another shot at it. Ricky missed. I thought I deserved another shot at it. I guess I have to take what they give me."

"Man, it's getting scary,” said Carmichael a few moments before his failed attempt, which saw him hit the ground in a heap. “I don't know if I want to go that high."

While Carmichael was on a works Suzuki RM-Z450, Renner rode his trusty KTM two-stroke. Before the contest began, both had an interesting take on things.

"To be honest with you, dude, I'm coming straight off the couch to do this,” RC explained. “I mean, I've been racing stock cars. But I love the X Games and I love being here... I don't know who has the advantage here, but I think we'll see that when the money gets put on the table.

Said Renner before the competition, "I'm the only one here with a two-stroke. I did all that Red Bull stuff in Chicago, and I'm just used to it. So due to that, I just decided to bring the two-stroke here."

Two-stroke and four-stroke? Jeremy McGrath made an interesting observation while buckling up his helmet: "You know, with the two-strokes, you sort of had a margin of safety - you knew where you were at. With these 450s, man, you can jump these things into the rafters."

Third on the night was Matt Buyten, who was knocked out at the 33' mark. Buyten was dejected. "I'm so bummed right now," he said, sitting on a bike stand. "I put absolutely everything I had into this. I put everything I had into my bike. It's so disappointing to work so hard and lose."

  • Trying on the third attempt at 35 feet, Carmichael hit the dirt hard.
  • Before the event, RC was all smiles.
  • RC was back up in a couple minutes, but the event was over.
Brian Deegan was the first rider knocked out of the competition, and soon after came supercross star Kevin Windham. McGrath was the next to go down, but truth be told, he didn't seem to upset about it.

"It was getting gnarly,” McGrath said. “I didn't even want to look up at the jump or the pole. I mean, I just looked up at my helmet visor and pinned it and hoped for the best."

But in the end it was RC and Renner.

“The stakes were high, you know?" said a torn and frayed RC. "Just going back and forth. And my style has never been pretty. Just get the job done. I’m happy.”

Afterward, down in the tunnel, RC climbed into the cab of the white pickup truck he was working out of and took off his jersey. His entire back was torn up, and he was relieved to have it over with. Nearby, standing near his bike and looking it all over, was current AMA Motocross Championship leader Chad Reed.

"When are you going to try this?" a fan asked.

"Never," Reed said.


Results of from ESPN X Games 15 MOTO X Step Up at Staples Center on July 30, 2009.

1) Ricky Carmichael Havana, FL 34.00 feet

1) Ronnie Renner Tampa, FL 34.00 feet

3) Matt Buyten Minden, NV 33.00 feet

4) Jeremy McGrath Encinitas, CA 32.00 feet

5) Kevin Windham Centreville, MS 30.00 feet

6) Brian Deegan Bellevue, NE 26.00 feet
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