Robinson rides his ‘big toy’ again at X Games
LOS ANGELES ” At the X Games, where 13-year-olds win gold medals, 36-year-old father of two Kevin Robinson is downright ancient.
But no one feels younger on the games’ mega ramp, where “K. Rob” has to keep himself from screaming “wheeeeee!” when he rolls down on his BMX bike.
“I absolutely love it, it just gets better and better as time goes on,” Robinson said of the behemoth originally designed for skateboarders but quickly adopted by BMXers. “I just get more comfortable on it. I feel like a kid in a candy store on that ramp.”
Robinson has been at the X Games since their start in 1995 when it was known as the Extreme Games. He’s been a rare constant at the always changing action sports showcase.
He has won the only two BMX Big Air gold medals that have been offered and is a heavy favorite for his third straight in the competition on Saturday night.
“I’ve got quite a few new things I’m working on,” he said.
Robinson has added a mop of curly blond hair to his usually close-cropped head, making him look more like a native in his new home in the San Diego area, where he recently moved from the BMX Mecca of State College, Pa.
But unlike many of the skinny, rocker-looking athletes at the games, Robinson is built like a linebacker, making him look like a dad playing on his little boy’s bike.
Two years ago at the X Games Robinson landed the first-ever double flair ” a twisting double backflip ” on the regular vert ramp after years of work at it.
That was the pinnacle of his career to that point, but the introduction of the giant ramp, which Robinson has called “just a big toy,” brought him to a new level of fame, money and attention.
Athletes roll down an 80-foot drop-in, perform a spin or flip over a 70-foot gap, then hurtle into a quarterpipe and launch into the air for another trick, usually something from their vert arsenal.
“I just love the rush,” he said. “It’s just a crossing-that-fear-barrier-regardless-of-the-consequences kind of thing. You’re up there and you’re shaking and you’re nervous, it’s like, ‘Well, once I roll over the top of this thing there’s no turning back.’ It’s just fun putting yourself in that position.”
He has made himself a BMX counterpart to Danny Way, the Evel Knievel of skateboarding who invented the mega ramp and once launched over the Great Wall of China.
Robinson pulled off a similar stunt in New York’s Central Park on June 12, setting a BMX height record with a jump of 27 feet over the top of a ramp similar to the X Games mega ramp that took him six stories up.
Robinson broke a record set by his sponsor and mentor Mat Hoffman, whom Robinson credits with early prototypes of the big ramp that Way would later design.
“Mat Hoffman came up with the whole big ramp concept back in ’92,” Robinson said. “Then Danny took it to the next level and made it what you see today.”
Last year Robinson won his gold the night after he watched skateboarder Jake Brown take a terrible plunge riding the very same ramp.
Robinson was smiling and unfazed throughout the night of his win.
“You just try to do what you can to avoid those mistakes, to not leave yourself in that position,” he said. “We all try to learn from his mistake and his mishap.”
Brown was set to try the ramp again in Skateboard Big Air on Friday night.
“I’m just glad that he’s OK, and I’m really happy for him that he’s back on a skateboard and skating again,” Robinson said.
Robinson said it’s entirely possible that a biker could take the same sort of spill, and with a lot more dangerous metal flying around.
But BMX riders do enjoy one safety feature skaters don’t.
“They don’t have brakes and we do, so if we’re going too fast, we can hit the brakes. They’re brakeless every time,” he said.
Also Friday, motocross legend Ricky Carmichael makes his first foray into X Games freestyle in Moto X Step-Up, essentially a high jump for dirtbikes.
Carmichael won every race and accolade there was to win in motocross and supercross, and has been seeking new challenges. He full-time job now is stock car racer ” he’s driving on NASCAR’s Camping World East circuit for Ken Schrader.
Last year a semi-retired Carmichael made his first appearance at the X Games in a modified motocross event he helped create, Moto X Racing. He sprinted to the lead and was never approached by another rider.
He was so far out in front he began doing freestyle tricks to turn on the crowd, perhaps tipping his hand as to his next direction.
Carmichael made his first attempt at Step-Up at the Moto X World Championships in San Diego in April. He finished second.
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