The Red Bull X-Fighters 2014 is shaping up to be a battle of styles between tradition and innovation. With the season's second contest days away, two riders warmed up their jaw-dropping tricks at a site that embodies that contrast: the spot where one of Japan's oldest temples meets the modernity of its tallest building.
Osaka's beloved Shitennoji temple has witnessed nearly 15 centuries of Japan's remarkable history, but on Thursday the traditional site was home to a type of innovation that it hadn't before seen in its almost 1,500 years: the radical riding of freestyle motocross.
In preparation for the Red Bull X-Fighters action that will return to Osaka Castle on May 24 and 25, Fukushima's Daice Suzuki and California's Wes Agee warmed up their breathtaking maneuvers on ramps outside the majestic Shitennoji structure. Fascinated passersby cheered tricks like the "tsunami," "cliffhanger" and "indie kiss of death." Looming even higher, the Abeno Harukas skyscraper – which, at 300 meters, is Japan's tallest building and a symbol of new beginnings – provided a reminder of the contrast in styles in the world's most prestigious freestyle motocross event series: some riders honor tradition and redefine perfection, while others look to achieve unimagined new heights of progression.
The real battle will play out this weekend when the elite contenders fly up to 15 meters high over the track at Osaka Castle – where spectators will be closer to the action than at any other stop in the season. Besides, Suzuki and Agee, the 12-man lineup also includes last year's Osaka winner Taka Higashino, his French nemesis and 2013 overall champion Thomas Pagès, and New Zealand's Levi Sherwood, fresh from his victory at the season opener in Mexico City.
The Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour stops for 2014 are Mexico City, Mexico (14 March); Osaka, Japan (25 May); Madrid, Spain (27 June); Munich, Germany (19 July); and Pretoria, South Africa (23 August).
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters Osaka LIVE!
Catch all the action from Red Bull X-Fighters in Japan:
Tickets: Get your tickets now: Lawson Tickets
Webcast: We will stream the entire competition live right here on redbullxfighters.com/osaka-live, Red Bull TV, Xbox 360 and Apple TV.
Please note that the live webcast is geo-blocked in the US, but will be available as a Video on Demand from 8:30pm (ET) on Monday, May 26.
May 25: Japan: 03:00pm (JST) | Australia: 04:00pm (AEST) | New Zealand: 06.00pm (NZST) | Mexico: 01:00am (CST) | Brasil: 03:00am (BRT) | Europe: 08:00am (CET)
May 24: Canada: 11:00pm (PST)
TV: The main event will also broadcast live on several TV stations around the globe. Please check local listings for details. The event will broadcast for the US fans on Fox Sports 1 on Monday, May 26, at 6.30pm (ET) / 3.30pm (PT).
Live Results: To get results and standings in real-time, hit redbullxfighters.com/results