The Lord of Vert: Jamie Bestwick

By: Mark Losey – BMX may not resemble basketball or hockey, but explaining Jamie Bestwick’s Vert domination requires using names like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky — guys so far ahead of the game in their respective sports that everyone takes notice. That’s the kind of neighborhood Jamie Bestwick lives in. To give you some perspective, every year a Dew Cup has been up for grabs in BMX Vert, it’s found its way to Bestwick’s house by the end of the season, and no other Dew Tour athlete in any sport can say the same. Oh, and don’t forget the multiple X Games gold medals, Gravity Games wins, World Championships titles, etc…

Bestwick’s modern day Vert domination is not due to lack of competition. Guys like Chad Kagy, Simon Tabron, and Steve McCann have been putting on serious pressure, but Jamie has raised his game to near perfection—he almost needs to make a mistake before anyone else can get their foot in the door. Action sports athletes often lose street cred as their number-of-wins goes up, but every BMX rider on the planet would trade their left arm to float an alley-oop-whip across acres of Skatelite like Bestwick. But how did Jamie get to this state of domination? Here’s a quick look of the Lord of Vert.

Pre-Dew: Bestwick vs. Mirra
Bestwick didn’t simply emerge as the supreme ruler of Vert when the Dew Tour began in 2005. He’d been putting in work in the pro Vert ranks for years, and in the pre-Dew era he earned his chops battling against guys like Mat Hoffman, Simon Tabron, Kevin Robinson, and the one and only Dave Mirra. Mirra had been ruling the game in both Park and Vert contest for years, but Jamie was not letting him take things easily. Rumors constantly floated out of Woodward Camp’s Cloud 9 of how hard Jamie was working and the magic tricks he had in his bag if he needed them. As Bestwick continued to raise the stakes and Mirra began to focus more Park, it left Jamie at the head of the class in Vert.

2005: Enter the Dew Tour
When the Dew Tour got under way, it looked like Bestwick had a somewhat clear path to Vert ownership, but one rider who rose to the challenge was Chad Kagy. For years, Chad had been a force in Park, Dirt, and Street, and as he began to focus on Vert it seemed that if anyone could slow Bestwick down, it would be Kagy. Regardless of who the competition was, though, Bestwick was far from hitting cruise control. He continually rolled the dice, and the top spot on the Dew Tour podium appeared to have his name permanently engraved on it. There were a few times he’d been beaten, but all the stars had to align for that to happen.

2009: The Perfect Season
Going into the 2009 PlayStation Pro in Orlando, Bestwick had won all three Dew stops of the year, meaning he could somewhat coast at the Finals and still take the overall title—but “coasting” doesn’t exist in Jamie Bestwick’s vocabulary. In fact, he put in one of his best contest runs ever in Orlando. While some riders do big tricks at comfortable heights, Bestwick was doing everything as high as he could possibly go. He later said that he was pushing so hard after every air that his back wheel didn’t really come into contact with the ramp until going up the next wall! Kagy was dropping hammers in Orlando, too, but Bestwick was not to be beaten, giving him a perfect winning season and an unprecedented fifth Dew Cup.

The Future
So after winning everything imaginable, what can you expect next from Jamie Bestwick? Most likely: more of the same. Bestwick seems to have learned how to perfectly condition his body for the demands of Vert riding (including the occasional 540-whip-to-amnesia-lander), so even at age 37, he’s got no reason to slow down. He has a great family, hobbies to keep things fresh, and he seriously rips in every aspect of BMX. With that much diversity and that much talent, would you change anything? When you’re used to living life 13 feet out, retirement doesn’t really sound like a fun option.

Bestwick Facts
• Out of the 24 Vert contests in Dew Tour history, Jamie has won 19.

• Bestwick has only missed one Dew Tour event—the first ever—due to the birth of his son.

• Before moving to the States and riding full-time, Bestwick lived in England and had a job inspecting airline fan blades.

• To film his part for the Etnies video “Grounded,” Jamie was able to shred a massive Vert ramp set up in the desert. Check the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlO8G4HPp4A.

The spotlight has been on Bestwick for the entire history of the Dew Tour, and he’s not done yet.

Candybar at height during practice in Salt Lake City.

With all of the trophies in Jamie’s collection, this one will probably stand out…

At the Finals in Orlando, Jamie basically put on a demo. Huge tailwhip air.

To win as much as Jamie you have to be dead serious at all times, right? Not quite—note the life-size photo on the top of Jamie’s helmet…

The spoils of the perfect season.