Tom Pages is no stranger to making monumental headlines in freestyle motocross, and while it’s no surprise that he won yet another gold medal in X Games Moto X QuarterPipe in Austin, the way that he did it was the type of moment that comes few and far between in the world of motocross and action sports.
Quarterpipe is a young sub-discipline of freestyle motocross, so young in fact that only a handful of riders on the planet can credibly claim that they do it. It takes a special breed to stare down a 12-foot vertical wall and rip a full-size motocross bike straight up it and hope for the best. There have been fantastic tricks and tremendous wrecks on quarterpipes in these few years of the event’s infancy, a spectrum with which Tom Pagès has an intimate familiarity. Last year at X Games, he wrecked fairly spectacularly in his first go at a Bike Flip, the trick that eventually won him gold when he stomped it in his second run that year.
This year, Pagès again opened up with a Bike Flip, but unlike last year, he nailed it on his first try. The judges keenly awarded him a sturdy 92.66 for his efforts. With competitors dropping bikes left and right, and nothing too out-of-the-FMX-ordinary being put to dirt, it seemed safe to say that Pagès had it in the bag even before the second runs started. Once Levi Sherwood dropped the bike on his second attempt at his trick — an Alley-Oop Flair, the only trick attempted in the competition on the radar of a Bike Flip — the foregone conclusion was set in stone: Pagès would swing yet another gold around his neck in 2016.
But still to come was his second run, and though Sherwood had missed two attempts at the Alley-Oop, Pagès had decided that he was the man to tame that beast. Rather than take a casual, safe victory lap, he exploded off the ramp, and tossed it — an inverted 540-degree rotation going against his direction of travel from ramp to dirt, spinning so fast in so many directions that most fans had absolutely no idea what they were witnessing — and he nailed it.
Putting two wheels perfectly to the dirt, Pagès rode away in utter ecstasy. In a competition that had seen more wrecks than makes, and very few of those special “next level” tricks, Pagès had cleanly put down two tricks that are in the realm of possibility for maybe one or two other riders on the planet. He had already won the event, and then the scores came in — a 94.66. Tom Pagès’s glory run outshined even his own gold medal-winning trick. The crowd was going crazy, and the ever-excitable Frenchman responded in kind, dropping his bike and feverishly hugging his crew and exclaiming to himself in French what probably loosely translates to something like “Hell f***ing yeah!”