DUBAI, UAE – A sand palace in front of the skyline of Jumeirah Beach, sold-out stands and a surprise victory were the ingredients for a superlative season-opener. The 23-year-old Torres of Spain pulled out all the stops in the final jump and beat one of the pre-event favorites, Andre Villa of Norway, to claim the victory. It was Torres’ fifth victory in the history of the Red Bull X-Fighters since its creation in 2001. Torres, who uncharacteristically qualified in the bottom six, had to compete in four runs versus three for the top six qualifiers, who have an automatic bye into the quarterfinals.
Defending series champion Nate Adams was unexpectedly knocked out in the semifinals and had to settle for third place. “The pressure was enormous and the level of the competition was really high," he said. "I’ll be back ready to fight in Brazil.”
New Zealand’s Levi Sherwood, famous around the world for his tremendous flexibility and two Red Bull X-Fighters event wins, was making his competitive comeback after breaking his femur last year, but he wasn’t able to finish any higher than fifth place, behind Aussie rider Blake "Bilko" Williams. Sherwood did win the event's Swatch "Best Move" award.
The athletes, as usual, put on a spectacular show, with leaps of more than 40 feet high that defied the laws of gravity, as Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, watched enthusiastically. The second stop of the World Series takes place in Brasilia (May 28), followed by Rome (June 24), Madrid (July 15), Warsaw (August 6) and Sydney (September 17).
Final results - Red Bull X-Fighters Dubai:
1. Dany Torres (ESP), 2. Andre Villa (NOR), 3. Nate Adams (USA), 4. Blake Williams (AUS), 5. Levi Sherwood (NZL), 6. Eigo Sato (JPA), 7. Robbie Maddison (AUS), 8. Adam Jones (USA), 9. Taka Higashino (JPA), 10. Rob Adelberg (AUS), 11. Lance Coury (USA), 12. Jackson Strong (AUS)