LOS ANGELES Jeremy Stenberg kicked his feet into the air in the midst of a backflip Thursday to beat Travis Pastrana in the Moto X best trick contest, avoiding the type of brutal crashes that waylaid other X Games competitors.
Earlier, the smooth-skating Paul Rodriguez Jr. scored a repeat win in street skateboarding and Jamie Bestwick was best in the BMX freestyle vert contest.
Stenberg, 23, landed using only his right hand on his first leap from a ramp in the Staples Center parking lot, and launched another impressive backflip on his second run to hold Pastrana to second and Nate Adams to third.
‘‘I’ve had that trick in the book for at least two months,’’ Stenberg said. ‘‘So I’m pretty pumped to finally get that monkey off my back.’’
Pastrana recovered from a fall on a specially crafted motorcycle to complete his second jump, a backflip in which he also kicked his legs out and wrapped them around before landing.
Chuck Carothers, trying to repeat the body varial trick he used to win last year’s Moto X best trick contest, crashed on his second run, his head whipping back as his chin struck the top of his motorcycle. He didn’t move for at least a minute, but was helped up and waved to the crowd. Kenny Bartram landed a crowd-pleasing sidesaddle backflip and judges were booed for their low marks.
Rodriguez, 20, used switch tricks to take the lead in street skateboarding after the third session on a small course of stairs, ramps, ledges and picnic tables.
‘‘Last year was great, but this year was even better,’’ he said after scoring 92.50 for the win. In second was Greg Lutzka of Huntington Beach and Chris Cole of Levittown, Pa., was third.
Bestwick won the BMX freestyle vert after Dave Mirra and John Parker suffered nasty falls. Mirra, the all-time leading X Games medal winner, suffered a concussion and stayed out of the second round after his awkward landing. Parker, of Gilbert, Ariz., was knocked unconscious and taken away on a stretcher.
ESPN announcer Sal Masakela said Parker regained consciousness and was taken to a hospital, where he would remain overnight.
Bestwick, of State College, Pa., used several flairs backflips with 180-degree turns to score a 95.00, ahead of Chad Kagy and Kevin Robinson, both also from his city.
It was a reversal of sorts for Bestwick, who had a bad fall at last year’s games.
‘‘I hate it when Dave Mirra crashes,’’ he said. ‘‘It was a tough night for him, but hey, I know what a tough night’s like.’’
‘‘Just to ride in front of everybody and just to have a good time, that’s what I did today,’’ he added.
The first stars of the X Games were big waves. East Coast surfers beat their West Coast counterparts 100.75 to 96.50 in a team event held Tuesday in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Waves up to 10 feet high dwarfed the tiny swells in Huntington Beach, Calif., that made the event more challenging and slow-paced in the past two years.
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