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When they’re not defying gravity, this is how the stars of the X Games relax

Travis Pastrana

Motocross rider Travis Pastrana arrives at the Inagural 'Arby's Action Sports Awards' held at Center Staging in Burbank, California. on November 30th, 2006.

Kevin Winter/Getty

Travis Pastrana
Age: 23
Sport: Rally Racer/ Freestyle Motorcross
Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland

Travis Pastrana defined the X Games last year when he flew off a twenty-foot ramp on his motorcycle and executed the double back flip — no one else has even dared to attempt the stunt, and Pastrana says he’ll never do it again. “I have an overconfidence problem,” he says, “but I know when I’m going to die.” It’s easy to forget that one of the most successful action-sports stars in history is only twenty-three. At fifteen, he won his first X Games gold medal and has followed it up with eight more, one in the first-ever X Games rally-car race, a sport that Pastrana says occupies “99.9 percent” of his time. Although Pastrana has retired from motocross, he says, “If I come up with a trick that would blow somebody away, I’ll be back.” And he might have a surprise in the works. “I want to do a double back flip — on a BMX bike off the Mega Ramp. My team would kill me, but I’m thinking about just showing up on the ramp and saying, ‘Hey, guys, can I borrow a bike?'”

Dallas Friday
Age: 20
Sport: Wakeboarding
Hometown: Orlando, Florida

 In the world of wakeboarding, there is Dallas Friday and there is everybody else. For five years, the tiny blonde has ruled her sport like no other athlete in the X Games universe — Friday lost only three times in the past three seasons. Then, last year, it all came crashing down: A fin broke off her board just as she was launching into a trick. “I got hung up in the air, came down and snapped my leg,” she says. Her femur broke in nine places. Following surgery, her lungs collapsed and she slipped into a coma for ten days. That was last October. Doctors said it would be a year before she could start practicing again, but there she was on Memorial Day, back in competition at the U.S. Masters. Friday finished second, despite competing without her full arsenal. “I am pretty stoked on that,” she says. “I was happy just to be able to compete again. I know I’ll be back to where I was, and I think I’ll surpass that. It’s been so motivating to not be out there. Sometimes a break is for the good.”

Chad Kagy
Age: 28
Sport: Freestyle BMX
Hometown: Gilroy, Pennsylvania

It’s hard to think of anyone better. When Kagy rolls onto the ramp at this summer’s X Games, he will be the defending gold medalist in BMX Vert. But Kagy almost didn’t make it there — in 2003 he broke his neck doing a flip. “It’s so fast in a double back flip that I focus on the different colors – blue sky and gray ramp,” he says. “I started seeing the blue again, and that’s when I hit.” Doctors said he’d never ride again. But he returned the next year, and even marriage and a now five-month-old baby haven’t slowed Kagy down. Although he hasn’t tried a double back flip again, he’s still one of a handful of riders ballsy enough to fly off the seventy-foot Mega Ramp, a featured event at the X Games. “Everything we do is stupid on one level or another,” Kagy says. “I guess that’s what makes it a good spectator sport.”

Ashley Fiolek
Age: 16
Sport: Motorcross
Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida

To look at number sixty-seven winging around the dirt track, you’d have a hard time telling her apart from the other riders skidding around corners and sailing over jumps. Only the blond-and-pink hair streaming out of the back of her helmet belies a difference — that’s a girl out there, racing boys. But what really distinguishes Ashley Fiolek is something even more impressive: She’s deaf. Fiolek, who has been deaf since birth, has been racing motocross since she was seven. At the age of thirteen, she won her first girls’ national championship, and although she recently broke her ankle in a gnarly crash, she vows that she’ll soon be back on her bike. So how does Fiolek ride, when she can’t hear riders approaching from behind or her engine redlining? “My dad taught me how to ‘feel’ the engine,” she explains, via e-mail. “And I have been riding with boys for a long time. So when I ride, I look really smooth and just kind of flow. It almost looks like I’m going slow. But I’m not.”

Ryan Sheckler
Age: 17
Sport: Stakeboarding
Hometown: San Clemente, California

It’s time to stop talking about Ryan Sheckler as a prodigy. The California kid, who at fourteen became the youngest X Games gold medalist ever, is now a four-year vet of pro skateboarding. He’s a certified megatalent: Tony Hawk said of Sheckler, “He’s one of the best all-around skaters today, probably the best.” And starting in September, he will be the star of his own MTV reality show, The Life of Ryan. The series features Sheckler trying to balance his home life as a “normal teenager” dealing with chores, his two brothers and his mom-manager, Gretchen, with what he calls his “crazy, superstar life” on the road. Right now, Sheckler’s practicing twice a day for the summer X Games in his own backyard skate park. “I want that gold,” he says. “It’s gonna be a powerful year if everything goes according to plan. And after the show drops, it’s gonna be mayhem.” That means more money, more fame . . . more groupies? “I consider them fans,” he says. “But there’s a lot of girls. Let me just leave it at that.”

In This Article: Coverwall, X Games

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