Nitro Circus has revolutionised the action sports landscape, taking the familiar and successful X-Games model and beefing it up with bigger ramps, crazier tricks and a shrewd understanding of what incentivises an ever expanding fan base. The travelling juggernaut that is Nitro Circus is now back bigger and better than ever with the Nitro World Games, a further revolution in progression within the action sports world.
As the Nitro Circus page details, 2022 is set to be one of the biggest years both in the brand’s ten year touring history and Australasia specifically. In Australia and NZ, Nitro Circus will almost double its show count in comparison to the last full tour in 2019. To date, Nitro Circus has performed more than 360 shows in over 30 countries worldwide, leaning on the human penchant for risk and the competitive nature of young men (and some women) to deliver an exciting blend of action sports in stadiums, arenas and festivals the world over.
- Nitro World Games Course, Suncorp Stadium
Travis Pastrana, global icon and co-creator of Nitro World Games, said, “At last, Nitro World Games is back and primed to take the big air of action sports to another level. After a two-year hold, I know that athletes can’t wait to debut the insane tricks that they will need in order to have a shot at the podium. It’s going to be a wild ride at Suncorp Stadium this October.”
- BMX & MTB World Champion Caroline Buchanan with global icon and Nitro World Games co-creator Travis Pastrana
For the first time in the brand’s history, the Nitro Circus World Games has made its way to one of Australia’s greatest cities, Brisbane. More than 70 top competitors from five continents will vie for the podium in Freestyle Motocross (FMX), FMX Best Trick, BMX Best Trick, BMX Triple Hit, Skate Vert and Scooter Best Trick.
Nitro Circus is significant enough to even warrant mayoral acclaim! That’s right, Brisbane’s own Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, has expressed excitement at the event, and not just because of its economic benefits (i.e. a $20 million injection to the local community), stating that “as the first place outside the USA to host this major event, adrenaline-seeking fans from across Australia will get to see local Queensland heroes Ryan Williams and Logan Martin compete in front of a home crowd, with an amazing atmosphere expected at Suncorp Stadium.”
Moving past the melancholic atmosphere permeated by Brisbane’s weekend weather forecast, a passionate crowd file into Suncorp Stadium a day late, the thirst for extreme spots untainted. The crisp, immaculately manicured turf of Suncorp stadium now supports an array of varying ramp setups, massive kickers and even bigger roll-ins. The stadium is filled with the collective murmuring of feverish enthusiasm, motorbikes braaping and rubber on skatelite, a stark divergence from the blood-thirsty screams of passionate State of Origin fans. The bronzed statue of a revered QLD champion, yours and ours, The King (Wally Lewis) stands proudly over the forecourt, purveying and protecting the integrity of the stadium.
- Ryan Williams AKA R Willy flipping over two kings (Wally Lewis)
The scene is set for some of the wildest extreme sports action the world has ever seen!
The Nitro World Games is host to a variety of sporting competitions, however for the purposes of this piece, the focus is on BMX. As such, we are presented with the blessings of two formats, BMX Triple Hit and BMX Best Trick.
BMX Triple Hit offers a platform for who can stick the three biggest tricks, propelled into a rhythm section of three kicker jumps in a row. This format is a staple of the Nitro World Games, attracting a field of heavy-hitters and household names in the BMX Competition world. This arrangement works to test a riders consistency, having to put together a run which is more than just a ‘hail mary’ moment, valuing flow, momentum and creativity. And secondly, BMX Best Trick, the focus being placed squarely on the ability of the rider to drop the craziest trick possible. A massive roll-in sends the rider through a gigantic kicker and offers the opportunity to see the biggest names in BMX attempt the wildest tricks known to man!
- A rainy day of setting up inside a football stadium
First off the rank for the Nitro World Games, as the golden Brisbane sunlight bathes through the stadium, is BMX Triple Hit. Sixteen riders from around the globe take the stage, the cameras rolling and the boys are hyped to see themselves up on the big screen, some remain stoic - focussed on the prize, others take a more comical approach. Each rider has two runs with the highest score taking the cake, it’s a tight competition which is evident right from the first run. After the first round, it is America’s Daniel Sandoval who has the top ranking, besting Logan Martin in second place and Kieran Reilly from Great Britain. From here, things really start to heat up!
- Local legend and LUXBMX team rider Boyd Hilder killing it through the BMX triple hit
The drama is palpable with fan favourite Ryan Williams having bombed his first run and olympic gold medallist Logan Martin sweating in second. The riders must be feeling the crowds' energy, or perhaps hyped for a paycheck because almost half the group significantly improved on their first run and are biting at the top dogs with scores in the 90s, including Justin Dowell, Brandon Loupos, Pat Casey and Jaie Toohey. Poor old Kieran Reilly is now ousted to the back of the pack, joining Ryan Williams who again couldn’t stick a run.
After the dust settles, it remains a winning feeling for Daniel Sandoval with his first run score of 96.33 through handling a 360 double downside whip into a 360 barspin to downwhip to barspin and then stomping a 360 whip to barspin to downside whip. The celebration ritual is on point, ‘lesgooos’ are shouted in a mildly aggressive braggadocio manner . More importantly, Sandoval’s plain salmon shirt stands in stark contrast to the all black get-up the other riders wear, a bold fashion choice. Congratulations to Sandoval for the win, Logan Martin for second place and Justin Dowell for the third place. Also, shoutout to Logan Martin for taking out the innovation award for his quad opposite whip - which is actually nuts for a mid-run trick. Shoutouts are also warranted for Chris James and Boyd Hilder for daring to execute some tricks which aren’t a 360, barspin or tailwhip, very refreshing.
- Boyd Hilder representing LUXBMX
The hype of BMX Triple Hit subsides, the sun fades into the night and the crowd starts to build further as the anticipation rises for BMX Best Trick. Featuring a largely different group of riders, with a few familiar faces from BMX Triple Hit, the scene is set for wildness to ensue. The commentators work to build hype, one half being Aussie BMX rider Todd Meyn who has to work a little harder given the harsh Australian vernacular. The narration is soon overshadowed by the timelessness of nu-metal as it blasts across the stadium. With three runs available to each sixteen riders, there is an extra turn at stomping the best trick each rider can offer, after what is likely months and months of preparation and training.
- R Willy doing R Willy things
First off is Estonian Roomet Saalik and to my astonishment, leads with a 1080 frontflip. You heard that right, a trick which not that long ago would have been a mere dream is now somewhat rote. I remember the days when a double backflip was the peak of badass, whereas nowadays it’s a simple setup trick. The riders step up, each facing the pressure of the crowd and the terror of a massive jump. The craziness continues with triple flips, bikeflips, bars on bars on bars and enough spins to alter the earth’s gravitational pull. Standouts of the competition were certainly the number of local riders, including Sunshine Coast’s Harley Allen and Andrew Hutchinson as well as Dylan Devitt from Kingaroy. From my perspective, these dudes are relatively unheard of so it’s amazing to see them on a world stage. Furthermore, Brandon Schmidt’s head-grind on a double backflip double tailwhip and Jaie Toohey’s massive triple flip - the dude literally pedalling down the massive roll-in to further increase speed and height.
After the hour long competition, and each rider's three runs, crowd favourite Ryan Williams stands above the pack after a frontflip bike flip pulled clean in his first run. Poland’s Dawid Godziek nails the second spot and third is the American, Pat Casey. While the level of trickery is beyond comprehension, the competition also benefited from a few other less obvious factors, including Chris James’ facial hair, the beautiful drone shots of Brisbane, the re-emergence of skinny jeans and pads as well as the shrewd ability of the group to carefully position energy drink sponsor logos towards the camera. With a couple familiar master of ceremonies, including Micah Kranz (of multiple Props BMX video appearance fame) and Caroline Buchanan (of BMX racing fame), the boys are awarded their trophies amidst adrenalin fuelled smiles and crowd fanfare.
- Boyd Hilder double flippin' into local fans hearts
What an amazing experience for Brisbane to be blessed with the honor of hosting a Nitro World Games. It brought great joy to see the gigantic capacity of Suncorp Stadium filled with extreme sports fans. This surely has to be the greatness of Nitro Circus, capitalising on the niche aspects of extreme sports and presenting it in a format which appeals to both the clueless guy in HR, your brother’s motocross loving mate and your 5 year old niece - certainly not an easy task. While there are elements which potentially lack a certain sense of taste, respect is warranted for the riders who continue to push the boundaries of BMX. When bikes are involved, the more the better I say.