MegaRamp has Big Air competitors contemplating new heights

July 21, 2018

There was no preparation adequate for the MegaRamps annual debut on Friday night.

The summer X Games biggest attraction, literally, has no equal. Athletes practice on a couple of impostors located in California. Theyre not as steep. Theyre not as smooth, so theyre not as fast. Only experience soothed Mykel Larrins nerves before he and his BMX bike rode an elevator eight stories to the top.

The 82-foot tall MegaRamp is the symbol of the X Games namesake extreme games. Athletes are constantly seeking the next jaw-dropping feat. But even though the ramp entered its 15th summer for skateboarders and 13th for BMX riders, theres a feeling among athletes that its the current pinnacle of their progression in action sports. Few might ever dare to dream bigger.

The next evolution has simply become what can be pulled off riding the MegaRamp.

It keeps you honest, said Larrin, a bronze medalist in BMX Big Air. Thats the biggest thing. Because when it goes wrong, it goes pretty wrong.

Everybody saw how wrong Friday night. The stadium crowd let out a bellowing shock, then hushed as Colton Satterfield lay separated from his light blue bike. Satterfield, a two-time BMX Big Air gold medalist, held up a thumb and pinkie with his right hand while strapped to a backboard and carted off the track. He wrecked on his first run while descending the 27-foot quarterpipe at the end of the MegaRamp.

Satterfield was immediately ruled out of the competition while being evaluated for clavicle and possible head injuries, according to ESPN public relations.

The crash is a dark side of soaring above the second deck of U.S. Bank Stadium.

My first experience was watching it on TV, Larrin recalled. I was at home like oh my thats crazy, look at that ramp. In my head, its progression. So you jump off a curb, then youre doing a box jump and so forth and you build up to that. But theres never been anything like this since Mat Hoffman did that back in the day.

Larrin credits Hoffman, the BMX Vert pioneer, with first pushing the boundaries of ridiculous air. In the early 1990s, Hoffman constructed his own gigantic ramp, dubbed The Big Ramp, to chase the record for worlds highest air on a BMX bike.

This was before the Internet became popular. So the world didnt get a glimpse of Hoffmans 20-foot tall quarterpipe until photos emerged in a Hoffman Bikes advertisement in June 1992. To pick up speed, Hoffman gripped a ski rope in one hand, his BMX bike in another while being catapulted forward into the quarterpipe by a dirt bike towing him.

When the ad debuted, there were people who didnt believe it, Hoffman told ESPN five years ago. Even though I had a reputation for doing high airs, I was also notorious for having a goofy sense of humor.

So began the idea for something like the MegaRamp.

It took me awhile, Skateboard Big Air gold medalist Elliot Sloan recalled of his first-ever MegaRamp run. Probably the first few months, getting up there and looking at it and going Not today.

But now Sloan keeps coming back. Hell try to defend his gold medal in Saturdays Skateboard Big Air final with a kickflip 720 over the mega gap, which has never been done in Big Air competition. Hes landed three in practice runs on the two smaller MegaRamps, at Woodward West Skatepark and behind Bob Burnquists house in California.

We all skate like the smaller jump, and then we get here the contest is really on the bigger side, Sloan said. I mean its super fun, but its just hectic.

Even some fellow action sports stars arent game for the Mount Everest of the X Games.

It has to be scary to have to come from that to this, Womens Park skateboarder Nicole Hause said. You guys are amazing, because I think about it and Im like Nah, probably not. Probably not even one day.

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