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Navigating X Games Austin: The extreme events you can't miss

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The first X Games in Austin will focus more than ever on combining extreme sports with live music. Photo by Jon Shapley
x games rally with the capital in the background
Kanye West has wowed Austin audiences before at ACL Fest and SXSW, so expect the same when he performs live at the X Games. Photo by Jon Shapley

Later this week, the X Games roll into Austin for the first time, and there's much more to it than just sports. To help you navigate the exhausting schedule, we've picked highlights happening each day — combining athletic competitions and a complete festival experience.

Thursday, June 5: Tony Hawk’s Downtown Demo
Even newcomers to extreme sports will recognize the name Tony Hawk. The legendary skateboarder sets up shop in front of the State Capitol for a 30-minute demo at 5 pm on Thursday, officially kicking off the games. Stick around for the skateboard and BMX vert competitions, all free to the public. 

And there’s more free fun after that, with Myspace and X Games hosting a free show at ACL Live featuring Holy Ghost! You can also watch the musical performances happening at the track for free online.

Friday, June 6: Battle of the Bands and Enduro X
Friday will mark the beginning of the epic Battle of the Bands competition where music lovers will determine who wins a grand prize of $25,000. Not to play favorites, but Austin does boast four homegrown contestants, including Vinyl Dharma, Black Heart Saints, 5 Years & Counting and rapper Collin Gee. You can also catch music all day, beginning at 1:15 pm with Featherface and ending with Pretty Lights' headlining set at 11:15 pm.

On the sports side, one particular highlight will be the men’s and women’s final in the Enduro X competition. Participants race on Moto X bikes through an obstacle course of tree trunks, mud, and water-filled ditches, making for a grownup version of Mario Kart. Don't miss the finals of the skateboard “Big Air” contest as a few brave souls launch themselves high into the air to land one trick that will impress the judges.

Saturday, June 7: Rallycross debuts and Yeezy season begins
Highlighting Saturday’s sports lineup is the debut of Global Rallycross on the Circuit of the Americas track. Rallycross — with its quick and nimble cars — is all about a different set of challenges, including dirt jumps, hairpin turns and numerous drifting sections.

If bikes are your thing, check out the Moto X competitions. First, riders attempt to out-race and out-perform their opponents in the speed and style competition. Following that is the freestyle competition where contestants complete a chain of tricks while navigating a course full of crazy jumps.

On the festival side, Kanye West will hit the stage at 11:20 pm. Whether you love him or hate him for his off-stage antics, Kanye knows how to put on unforgettable live performances. Saturday also includes a performance by punk legends Bad Religion. 

Sunday, June 8: Super Trucks meet The Flaming Lips
The final day of the X Games doesn't ease off the gas pedal, so be prepared to soldier on. First, the high-powered Stadium Super Trucks make their COTA debut, with off-road racing over jumps and tight corners. Then, the finals of the men's and women's skateboarding street competition will showcase tricks that normal people only dream of pulling off in video games.

Speaking of video games, Sunday features the final matches of the newest addition to the X Games, Major League Gaming

Finally, the weekend come to a close with a stellar music lineup, including Austin favorites Emily Wolfe, My Jerusalem and Gary Clark Jr. The Flaming Lips close out the inaugural X Games Austin, putting the perfect exclamation point on an already extreme experience.

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