The BMX big air trophy will arrive in Texas before the rest of the X Games next summer.
Morgan Wade, 30, of Tyler, Texas, throttled the competition at Irwindale Speedway, winning his first career gold medal with a trick he learned only four days earlier.
Wade landed a back-flip superman over the gap after learning the maneuver on a padded ramp Monday and landing it for the first time at practice Wednesday. He then rose 21 feet 4 inches and executed off a triple tail whip on the quarterpipe. At the peak of his ascent, Wade was 48 feet 7 inches off the ground, appearing higher than the grandstand.
"It's just one of those things where everything had to line up right, and it finally did," Wade said. "I stuck the runs I wanted to and came out on top."
But he almost didn't get there.
Flying through the air on his contest-winning second run, Wade said that when he looked down to put his feet back on the pedals, the bike was still sideways.
"Oh boy," he said he thought to himself. "How am I going to get back on this?"
Wade reached his feet around, grabbed the pedals and was able pull off the landing just inches from the wood.
"I think I might have been more surprised than anybody else I was still riding," he quipped.
Vince Byron took second with a 540 double tail whip on the quarterpipe and Zack Warden finished third with a back flip bike flip to late tail whip on the gap, followed by a triple tail whip on the quarterpipe.
Byron said he was happy with silver, especially considering how high Wade soared to take gold.
"You're going into that quarterpipe with such speed, it takes everything not just to pull the brakes," Byron said. ". . . But at the same time if you don't touch the brakes, you know that's where the points are. They're up there."
Wade said he's excited to see the X Games move to Austin, Texas, starting next summer. Only a couple hours from his home, it will be a special experience for a competitor who has been to every X Games in Los Angeles since the event came here in 2003.
"This is what X Games is to me because it's all I know," Wade said. "So I'm really glad to go somewhere else, especially close to home."