ESPN’s X-Games is one of the biggest events in extreme sports, so it’s not unusual to witness some remarkable moves by a group of fearless competitors.
And then there’s the feat that motocross rider Jackson “Jacko” Strong pulled off.
At this weekend’s Austin X-Games, Strong injured his neck during the Quarterpipe competition (where riders launch from one ramp to another) and had to be airlifted to the closest hospital. Less than an hour later, he didn’t just return in time —he won a gold medal for Best Trick with a stunning front flip.
It was a whirlwind event for one of Team V’s own, so we asked him to tell it in his own words.
How many X-Games does this make for you?
I think I’ve competed in five X-Games now.
As far as preparation for an event like that, how many weeks or months in advance do you have to start really trying to nail down those tricks?
It’s pretty much a year-round thing for me. Just practicing every time I get a chance. But when it becomes crunch time, about a month out from the X-Games, I normally try to put in some really solid days and just ride as much as I can all day. No matter how much you practice, when you get there, you always feel underprepared. So I try and get in more than necessary.
You say that you practice year round. Are you practicing several things all at once, and then when it comes time for an event, you narrow that down?
Yeah yeah, I try and focus on the things I really need to do in the event.
At this year’s games, you had an injury in the Quarterpipe event. What was going through your mind as you were being airlifted away?
I got injured on the Quarterpipe and hit my neck, and then I went to the local medical staff to get an ultrasound on my neck. And it looked like the artery in my neck was split, that’s what they originally thought. So they threw me in a helicopter and sent me straight to a hospital for a CT scan. So it was a little nerve-racking at first, thinking that the doctors were stressing a little bit. But once we got the CT scan and it was all good, I wasn’t too worried, and I was lucky enough to be able to hitch a ride back with the helicopter to make it back in time. Otherwise I would’ve had no chance at getting back to the event. It was pretty good of them to do that for me.
How quickly did they get you back to the event?
I crashed in the Quarterpipe and it was 40 minutes until Best Trick. I was lucky enough to get to the hospital within 10 minutes, got the CT scan done in 20 minutes, and then I was back on my bike 10 minutes later. I was lucky the way all of that worked out.
Was your team a bit cautious? That’s a pretty quick hospital visit.
Everyone was cautious, and everyone thought there was no way I was going to make it back to the event. But I told the X-Games and everyone that I didn’t want to pull out and I was going to be back to ride, and luckily enough, my team was able to get my bike back together. Everyone worked really hard, and I pulled it all off. So I was pretty stoked for that.
You say that you pulled it off. You won Best Trick by a pretty wide margin. The trick itself—just how hard is it to pull off a front flip like that?
It was definitely hard. It’s not what I planned to do on the day, but it was all I could do with the windy conditions that were there. It’s probably one of the harder tricks I can do on a motorcycle.
How long have you been practicing the front flip?
It’s been nonstop practice actually for a very long time. I’ve been battling with that one for about six or seven years now, trying to perfect it. It’s still the hardest thing I can try and do on a dirt bike.
How many other people have pulled off that trick in big competitions?
I don’t think anyone else has done it in competition yet. But there’s been a few other people a long time back that did it outside of competition. I think I’m the only one that does that trick in contests.
That explains the high scores at the X-Games then.
Yeah yeah, which is good. Like I said, I had my eye on another trick to add with the front flip, but with the windy conditions and the pain I was already in, it was the only one I could do. I was pretty stoked I didn’t have to do anymore anyway.
What are your goals for future competitions?
I’ve got the Nitro Circus Games coming up in a little over a month now, so I’m working hard to get a nice big Best Trick for that contest. There’s going to be lots of practice over the next month. Hopefully I can come away with another good score there.