Saturday afternoon, 16 top regional BMX riders gathered to compete in the second annual Red Bull Most Wanted contest. Riders met up at the new Empire BMX warehouse, where X Games host Darryl Nau presented 40 challenges. Austin resident Aaron Ross scored the most valuable trick, the Firecracker Double Set, for a prize of $600. Jeremy Hrabal and Red Bull athlete Corey Martinez joined Ross in landing the most difficult tricks, grabbing a good portion of the $4,000 total bounty available.
What is different about this BMX contest? Instead of competing with set tricks, participants grab "bounties," or tricks worth varying amounts, from a wall. The harder the trick, the more money awarded if the move is landed successfully. One bounty even awarded the winner a game of ping pong with Empire BMX owner Tom Williams along with the trick value. The catch is this: each bounty is retrieved at Empire BMX, but the rider has to pull the trick off at a specific location then return to the start to grab his next opportunity.
Contestant Kevin Porter, a ten-year professional BMX-er, commented on how the event differs from most events he enters because it is not a "winner take all" contest. "The coolest thing about the Red Bull contest is everyone goes home with something. Towards the end of the event it starts getting really competitive. People start stealing tricks from each other."
At last year's contest, Porter grabbed a couple hundred dollars in prize money, but he knows there is more to this competition than just landing difficult tricks. "I think it's all strategy. But I'm not exactly sure what that best strategy is yet."
Several of the tricks were completed the new skate park completed by the City of Austin this past June. Besides the official Red Bull riders, a throng of BMX and skateboarders were on hand both to see the pros and to skate the pristine new facility next to House Park. It was the same scene at the 9th Street Trails, where pro BMXers were found riding alongside amateurs and everyone was getting big air.
Following the competition, over 300 riders gathered at the Trails for the Eighth Annual Halloween Jam, which sponsors like Red Bull and Empire host to show appreciation to the locals that make Austin a hub for cultivating the BMX scene across the country. Prizes and giveaways were available to all riders who attended.
“Red Bull created an event that brought together a great crew of riders, allowing us to have fun while hitting some of the legendary spots Austin has to offer,” said rider Martinez.
Aaron Ross planned to give his prizes back to the BMX community from the start. He was overheard before the event began, saying whatever prize money he won would be given away. Ross donated his $600 to Nina Buitrago, pro-BMX athlete, for her recent jaw surgery; toMike Tag, for his fight against cancer; and to the Empire Ramp.