Top 5: Athletes of Summer X Games in Austin, TX

By Vanessa Butler

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<p>For the first time in 11 years, the Summer X Games move to Austin, Texas. </p>


If you’re wondering what’s so different about Los Angeles this year but you can’t quite put your finger on it, we’ve figured it out: after 11 years, the X Games have moved to sunny Austin, Texas for the next four years! Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said in a statement: “The X Games celebrate fitness, courage and individuality—traits greatly valued by our community—and we look forward to showing the world all of the wonderful things Austin has to offer.”

Catch the following five athletes we’re rooting for in action on ESPN and ABC at the X Games Austin from June 5 to 8!

  Photo: Garth Milan / ESPN Images

Who she is: Hailing from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Tarah Gieger is ready to give fellow Moto X competitors a run for their money at this year’s X Games. As the most decorated female Moto X athlete around, we don’t think that’ll be much of a problem! “I’m excited about having an event this big in Austin,” Gieger told GirlsGoneSporty.com in a May 2014 interview. “I think X Games ran its course in L.A. and people became sort of numb to it, and it didn’t feel like as big of an event as it really is. Hopefully moving it to Austin will bring back some of that excitement that X Games is known for.”

What she’s bringing: Gieger has a lot in her roster to make her shine this year. She’s been dirt biking since she was eight years old and is the only woman to have competed in the Motocross of Nations for Team Puerto Rico. This seven-time X Games medalist (four in Moto X racing, three in Enduro X) was recently featured among the Top 25 athletes in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, so we’re expecting big things for this 28-year-old Red Bull racer.

  Photo: Bryce Kanights

Who she is: Mimi Knoop is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the rise of women’s skateboarding. Since she started organizing contests in 2005, she’s helped start up The Alliance, a nonprofit organization that empowers young women to participate in action sports, as well as Hoopla Skateboards, where Knoop has gone on to manage their team. “The landscape in general has changed, not just for female skaters or athletes, but for guys too,” Knoop explained to ESPN.com. “Skaters who might not be known at the X Games have this following online now. That’s where people are going for content. They’re going on their phones and they’re watching videos—not waiting for a big event to tell them what’s happening.”

What she’s bringing: Just because she isn’t hitting the skate bowl this year doesn’t mean she’ll be there cheering on future athletes! This five-time X Games medalist is heading to the games in Austin as the women’s skateboard organizer, where she’s already brought justice to prize purse parity for men and women at the X Games starting in 2009. Rock on!

  Photo: Tomas Zuccareno

Who she is: 2014 has already shaped up to be a pretty big year for Brazil’s Leticia Bufoni. In February she was featured on the cover of Men’s Health Brazil and just this week she’s become the first girl skater ever to sign for Nike SB, leaving her long collaboration with Volcom and Osiris behind. “Thanks to the entire crew from Volcom and Osiris shoes for all your support over the years,” wrote the 21-year-old skateboarder on Facebook. “It has been great working with these brands and they will always be special to me. Today, I’m entering a new chapter in my skate career as I’m excited and honored to announce that I’m joining the Nike SB family!” It comes as no surprise that Nike would want to snatch up this 2013 ESPYs Female Action Sports Athlete of the Year nominee; she’s won over 150 skateboarding trophies since age 11!

What she’s bringing: We’re expecting big things from this six-time X Games medalist this year. Known for landing huge, burly tricks with her Brazilian surf-influenced style, there’s no doubt this kick-ass babe will defend her Women’s Skateboard Street gold medal.

  Photo: Christian Pondella

Who he is: Thirty-year-old Travis Pastrana is one of the biggest names in action sports. Between creating the Nitro Circus tour and TV show and his stint in NASCAR, this guy has been pushing the limits everywhere he goes, garnering him nine gold medals from Moto X and four medals from Rally Car.

What he’s bringing: While he is known as the first guy to land a double backflip on a motorcycle, don’t expect him anywhere near the race. “I’ll be at X Games Austin just for rally car,” Pastrana told mxlarge.com. “Honestly, the motorcycles—I love it, but I like to do it on my own terms. It’s not worth it for me to push the limits unless I can control the takeoffs and landings and the times. I’m getting old. [laughs]”

  Photo: Tomas Zuccareno

Who he is: You may know him as the stunt driver from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the first American to compete overseas in the FIA European Rallycross Series or the cohost of Top Gear USA. But to us, Tanner Foust is a three-time X Games gold medalist!

What he’s bringing: Foust has left his longtime sponsor Ford this year to join the newly formed Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX) team for the Austin X Games. “I had a tremendous run with Ford, including some Ford team X Games podium sweeps, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” he told XGames.com. “But the opportunity to partner with Andretti Autosport and the new VARX team as they’re coming into the sport was too good to turn down, especially since I’ve been able to keep my partnerships with other long-term sponsors.”

Header image by: Chasen Marshall


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