At this point in the Dew Tour season, the Jamie Bestwick show has become an all-encompassing hit, with the way he's been captivating his competition and all eyes in the arena from one stop to the next, as he collects wins. The same thing was true at last weekend's Toyota Challenge in Salt Lake City, except for one big difference.
Kagy, Bestwick and Tabron checking the scores
This time he had to work even harder for the win.
"Just look at the contest, the contest was so tight," Bestwick said afterwards. "The lead kept swapping, like every other run. To me, that's exciting. I don't want the days of one guy riding and winning in his first run, and then everyone's playing catch up."
That's because the rest of the field was hot on his heels in a new competition format that delivered brand new tricks, gripping suspense and a new face on the podium.
The podium (l-r): Chad Kagy, 2nd; Jamie Bestwick, 1st; Coco Zurita, 3rd
Chad Kagy had the lead at one point after going huge and linking difficult tricks, like rolling straight into a flair tailwhip, and later pulling a huge barspin flair. He tried his elusive barspin to no-handed flair during the finals too, but crashed on it and finished in second place.
With the new finals format, each rider was given three 30-second runs to start the competition. From there, the 10 riders were reseeded based on their top run's score, and the top five advanced to the Final Jam.
Vince Byron, 540 whip
With Kagy in the lead for a good portion of the competition, he qualified first heading into the Final Jam and was the last rider to compete. That was the first twist to the competition, throwing Jamie for a loop, but he still managed to pull through in true Bestwick style.
"Because of the old format, Jamie's always been points leader in the last four years, which means that he was always the last person to go," Kagy said. "When he's not the last person to go, he doesn't know what's coming after him, so he's got to pull out stuff from his bag of tricks that he might not normally do."
Jimmy Walker, Indian air
The new format change also allowed the usual suspects, and some new faces, a chance to throw all their good tricks in the shortened run. We saw a brand new trick out of Simon Tabron, who pedaled his bike as he did a 540, making it an ET 540. Of course he was given naming honors, and he announced to the crowd that everyone had just witnessed the first Gyroscope of BMX vert competition.
In the Final Jam, each rider received a new set of three 30-second runs, and the best score from there determined the final standings. The new format worked for Coco Zurita, who finished third. He's been putting in some major ramp time in order to make a name for himself in the vert world since moving from Chile to the U.S. four years ago.
"It definitely worked for me," Zurita said of the format change. "It's not that I don't have enough tricks to do in 45 seconds, but if they give me 30, I can do all my bigger tricks and try to keep them high. So that 30 seconds is good enough for me. I think it worked better for me."
Coco Zurita, tabletop Chad and Jamie
Rivalries can be fabricated for the amusement of the fans or for more page views, but when it comes down to it, the athletes are all competing against themselves. Just ask Bestwick.
"I don't want to get into a huge, messy, grudge match on the ramp because that doesn't bring out anything other than bad vibes between two people," Bestwick said. "If everybody is rooting for each other, we can perform amazing things."
He looks at his competition more as a way to motivate and challenge himself.
Jamie Bestwick, turndown
"I've seen Chad go out there and just lay it down and you can't help but be inspired and want to go for it," Bestwick said. "I'm so happy that we stuck our necks out to change the vert format because I think we've come out with a huge positive."
Austin Coleman, downside whip
"Sometimes you can put it together in your first run, but with this three-run format, it doesn't matter, somebody's always going to try and come kick your ass."
Check out video highlights of the competiton below