Taka Higashino admits he is nervous ahead of the first Red Bull X-Fighters event in his home country but the Japanese ace has mastered one of the most difficult tricks in the world and will be among the top favorites for a victory on Saturday.
Taka Higashino left his hometown of Osaka seven years ago at the age of 21 for California with the fanciful dream of becoming a freestyle motocross ace. And now he's coming home as one of the best FMX riders the world has ever seen after learning the trade in the FMX hotbed of Temecula, California.
Higashino -- who will be performing at home in front of hundreds of friends, family and his parents for the first time – is seen as one of the hot favorites for the podium at the Red Bull X-Fighters event in front of the Osaka Castle on Saturday in part because he got a solid third place in the last round in Glen Helen, California but also on the strength of his freestyle gold medal at the X-Games in Brazil recently and mostly because of his most dazzling trick: the rock-solid flip. In midair Higashino starts a backflip, then from an upside down position he extends his body off the back of the bike and briefly lets go before pulling himself back on the bike just before landing.
"This is so special for me to be home in Osaka," said Higashino, always friendly and approachable. "It's a dream, a crazy dream. It's all too much in a way. It feels weird that all the Red Bull X-Fighters riders and crew are here in Japan. Welcome to my home town! I still can't believe you guys are all here." Higashino grew up in the pulsating city, Japan's third largest, just 15 minutes away from the venue in front of Osaka Castle in the city's famous Nishinomaru Garden.
"It's pretty exciting to be here in Osaka and I'm really happy that the people of Japan are getting to see FMX", said Higashino.
Higashino, who has lived and trained in California with former Red Bull X-Fighters ace Jeremy Stenberg, has bounced back from a crash in Wuppertal, Germany on August 15, 2008. But he learned his lessons and has since become one of the world's top FMX riders with a fluent and entertaining style that was on full display during the first training sessions on Thursday ahead of Friday's qualifying.
1 June 2013
New Zealand: 10.15pm (NZST)
Australia: 8.15pm (AEST)
Japan: 7.15pm (JST)
Europe: 12.15pm (CEST)
USA: 3:15am (PDT)
You can also follow the event on redbullxfighters.com/results with real-time results tracking the winners from each heat.