The world's best FMX riders will gather in Madrid for a 15th time on Friday to celebrate the Red Bull X-Fighters anniversary and take the sport to the next level.
Ask Dany Torres what his favorite moment in freestyle motocross has been and the eyes of the legendary Spanish rider with seven career Red Bull X-Fighters wins light up: "My first time in Madrid in 2004," he says quickly without missing a beat. Torres has won what is widely considered to be the most important FMX event twice in front of packed crowds of more than 20,000, in 2009 and 2011. Those wins were special moments indeed for him and delirious Spanish fans.
But like many of the world's best FMX aces, Torres said the most unforgettable moment of his career was competing in magical Madrid for the first time against the sport's elite in the incredible atmosphere of the Las Ventas bullfighting ring as a 17-year-old in 2004, where he finished seventh behind the American winner Travis Pastrana. Friday's event will be his record-breaking 12th time competing in Madrid, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
"All the FMX riders from around the world want to come here to do their biggest tricks," said Torres during a break in training for Friday's event. "The first time I was here in 2004 was so special for me. It was always my dream and then I was here riding against the greats like Travis Pastrana and Nate Adams (who took second place) and Ronnie Renner (third) was really, really special. The crowd is so amazing. We're all so psyched up to ride here. It's unbelievable."
Torres' description of the special appeal of Madrid was echoed in the pit lane ahead of Friday's one-off Red Bull X-Fighters extravaganza where 12 riders will be going all out for glory in front of the most frenzied and most knowledgeable FMX crowd anywhere.
Tom Pagès, who has won in Madrid the last three years, said it was always exceptional to win in front of such an expert and enthusiastic crowd and wants to keep his winning streak going for a fourth straight year.
"Madrid is special because it is the home of FMX," said Pagès, who said nailing the first-ever FMX Bike Flip trick in Madrid in 2014 en route to winning the championship that season was his most memorable moment. "Everyone is so focused to win Madrid. The setup is perfect to be able to express yourself. The crowd always inspired me here too. So much great FMX history has happened in Madrid and it has to continue. The Spanish crowds really love the new tricks. They know what to look for."
Madrid has been synonymous with FMX innovation over the last 15 years with new tricks and standards. The riders and track designers are always looking for ways to raise the bar. Flairs, Backflips, Body Varials and the Bike Flip have all been tried first and perfected in Madrid.
Levi Sherwood of New Zealand, who won in Madrid in 2012, said he was enamored with Madrid from his first time in 2009 even though he got booed in 2012 when he narrowly beat Spain's Maikel Melero in the semi-final and Torres in the final.
"If you beat the Spanish boys they don't really like that but in generally the Madrid crowd loves the event and all the riders," said Sherwood. "The best tricks happen in Madrid because is the event when it comes to Red Bull X-Fighters. It's got the best atmosphere and the course is basic so it's designed for best tricks. It's still a challenge but just easier to do the best tricks than on a bigger course. There is no better place to ride for the atmosphere and the crowd in Madrid. You can't describe the energy out there."
Josh Sheehan of Australia, the 2014 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour Champion, has never won in Madrid and would love to change that on Friday. "It's the most important FMX event and it's the most special place to compete each year. Madrid is where it all started. It's just got this incredible vibe. The atmosphere is so crazy and the Spanish people really get into it."
Australia's Clinton Moore, the 2015 World Tour Champion, got his Red Bull X-Fighters career off to a brilliant start in 2010 in Madrid when he did a Body Varial over a 75-foot jump but that was eclipsed by Robbie Maddison, who also did a Body Varial en route to winning the stop.
Watch Red Bull X-Fighters Spain LIVE!
Tickets: SOLD OUT
Broadcast: We will stream the entire competition LIVE on redbullxfighters.com and on Red Bull TV. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. For a full list of supported devices visit about.redbull.tv.
Please note that the broadcast is geo-blocked in the USA, but will be shown exclusively on Fox Sports 1.
Start Times: 10:00pm Local (CET)
June 24: Europe: 10:00pm (CET) | Canada: 01:00pm (PST) | Mexico: 03:00pm (CST) | Brasil: 05:00pm (BRT)
July 25: Japan: 05:00am (JST) | Australia: 06:00am (AEST) | New Zealand: 08.00am (NZST)
Video on Demand: The entire competition will be available as a VoD right after the event on redbullxfighters.com and Red Bull TV. In the US right after the event was aired on Fox Sport 1.
TV: For TV stations around the globe please check your local listings