The Speed and Style
New Discipline of Competition featured at the Navy Moto X World Championships at the ESPN Moto X World Champships
Latest from MXi/Paul Taublieb
By Ryan Lebya
(This is a copy of the article by Ryan Lebya which originally appeared on EXPN.com)
As you certainly know by now, ESPN will be holding the crème de la crème of all motocross events, dubbed the Moto X World Championships at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, April 12 and 13. I think the best way to describe it is to compare it to the X Games, but with nothing more than motocross related disciplines. The event will be two full days of fuel burning gnar gnar sickness including Best Trick, Freestyle, Moto X Racing, Supermoto, Step Up and Speed and Style. When I heard about this event, I was pretty excited, not because of the massive Roman Coliseum-like caliber, but because of the introduction of the new Speed and Style discipline. As much as I tried to wrap my brain around the concept and decipher out how it would actually work, I just couldn't. Since I (a Harvard graduate with a 4.2 GPA) couldn't figure it out, I realized that there must be a lot of people out there scratching their noggins as well. That's when I decided to hit up Speed and Style's inventor (as well as the inventor of Step Up), Paul Taublieb of MXi, which also serves as official Sport Organizer for the competions at both the X Games and here at the Moto X World Champ. To fully explain the logic and idea behind Speed and Style. Here is what Mr. Taublieb had to say of his newly born 10 pound 6 ounce brainchild.
I've been talking to ESPN for a few years in regards to adding a new idea I had to to the mix, something I had actually run before, but the timing wasn't right until now. The innagural Speed & Style competiton took place at the FreeRide Moto-X Championships in 1999 at the Costa Mesa Speedway.
The idea is pretty simple: find a way to combine two disciplines of riding skill—racing and freestyle—into a single competition. So what you have is two riders on the course and each does a separate lap, one is a racecourse the other is a modified freestyle course —then the riders switch courses. You combine a "speed" score, obviously based on their time, with a "style" score, based on traditional freestyle judging. One event, two worlds, coming together -- and it should be compelling.
The trick is to make the math work and the brains at ESPN have come up with a pretty ingenious formula. The winner of the speed portion gets the full maximum of 50 points. The other rider loses a point for each second he's behind. That creates each rider's speed score. Then the riders are judged in a traditional fashion for the freestyle portion—1-50. So it's a maximum of 50 points for each discipline, and therefore a grand total of 100 point is the maximum.
We're entering into the unknown here and I have to say, it's pretty exciting. Will a racer like Kevin Johnson, who competes in arenacross, have enough of a speed advantage to make up for solid trick run by a guy like Twitch who has great bike skills and as we know, has a full repertoire of tricks? And then there's this guys Travis Pastrana, who has the whole package and then some. What you can say, a racer once touted as a future supercross champ and the pioneer of things impossible in freestyle. This is short-attention-span-theater in both elements,and that should suit him fine. Kenny Bartram is another guy who may shine. It should be very interesting to witness the outcome. It's also been kind of fun hearing a number of the freestyle guys talking about their bad ### racing skills—well, we shall see!
One of the key competition elements is pacing between jumps and how that will in turn affect the freestyle tricks. For example: you would assume this would be a natural event for Brian Deegan, given his race background and obvious freestyle cred, but Deegan is a deliberate rider and demurred from this competition because he didn't want to be in the position of racing into jumps when there is so much at risk going up in the air. This event also adds a mental element that is new to freestyle motocross. During freestyle events, there is always pressure, but now the riders will be pressing for speed as well as having to pull some pretty big tricks, so it will be a bit more dangerous and demanding. It's almost like the two disciplines tap into two different parts of the brain. Another dynamic this event presents is that some FMX riders are looking to prove themselves as "legitimate" moto athletes. Within the core moto world, there's always been a bit of a rap against freestyle riders and how they're not real athletes because they don't race. This will be their opportunity to show off those skills.
I'd like to say thank you to Chris Stiepock and Tim Reed of ESPN for taking my original idea and concept and developing it and integrating it into the Moto X World Championships. Hopefully, Speed and Style will be an ongoing part of the Moto X competitions at the X Games itself. And who knows, maybe it might grow into its own stand alone discipline in the near future.
The new annual event will feature the best Moto X riders in the world competing for the title of Moto X World Champion in a variety of disciplines, including Freestyle, SuperMoto, Speed & Style, Best Trick, Step Up and Moto X Racing. Eight hours of live coverage of the Moto X World Championships will be featured on ESPN and ESPN2 – all available in high definition. Extensive additional coverage will be provided via ESPN360.com and EXPN.com.
Tickets for the Navy Moto X World Championships are available for $10, $20 and $25, with free pit access included in the $20 and $25 tickets. A military discount will be offered - $5 discount from a $25 ticket and $3 discount from a $20 ticket. The Moto X World Championship 24-hour Tailgate is available through ticketmaster.com as well. The two-day RV parking pass offers picnic tables, power, port-a-johns and a common area.