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Firth native Downs wins bronze medal at X Games

July 18, 2017 GMT

Kurtis Downs brought Erik Roner with him to the X Games.

Downs and Roner starred together on MTV’s action sports entertainment company Nitro Circus, flipping and spinning their way to a friendship. On September 28, 2015, Roner died in a skydiving accident at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California, leaving Downs without one of his closest friends.

When Downs earned a spot at X Games Minneapolis in U.S. Bank Stadium for Friday’s BMX big air competition, he made sure Roner wouldn’t miss out. Downs wore a T-shirt with a picture of Roner on the front of it while conquering extreme sports’ biggest stage. The 2010 Firth High graduate finished third with a best score of 88.33 in his X Games debut.

″(Roner) has influenced me a lot,” Downs said. “I love his family, and I miss him dearly. He is in my heart. I love him with everything I have. I wanted him to be there to experience that with me.”

Downs — an X Games alternate last year — saved his best for last, as his bronze-medal score came during his fourth and final run.

The Firth native rode down the ramp and completed a backflip superman seat grab over the gap before capping his run with a triple downside tailwhip on the quarter pipe. He propelled himself 17 feet, 7 inches in the air before landing the latter trick. Downs was in seventh place out of eight competitors heading into his final run.

“I was there for a reason,” Downs said. “I had that run in my head for a long time. I wanted to get it done and show people who I am.”

Downs completed his fourth run despite injuring his wrist earlier in the competition. The slip-up did not deter him from earning a top-three finish in his first X Games competition. James Foster finished first with a 94.33 and Vince Bryon earned a second-place finish with a 92.33.

“It was surreal,” Downs said. “It was tunnel vision. Everything happens and you are looking at your neck and realizing you got what you want.”

Downs said his top-three finish earned him a spot in next year’s X Games, helping him live out a dream. He began riding bicycles when he graduated high school, but was watching the X Games when he was a child.

“I didn’t think I’d be there,” Downs said. “To be there and experience that is a really cool feeling.”

Downs’ friend and Pocatello native Colton Satterfield finished eighth in the event with a best score of 40.33. Satterfield won BMX big air gold in 2014 and 2015.