2 weeks ago | Words: Eric Johnson | Photos: Monster Energy

X Games Ventura 2024 wrapped up in thrilling fashion for Australian Jackson Strong claiming victory in the Moto X Best Trick contest. The intense competition, which came down to the final attempts, saw 32-year-old Strong from Lockhart, Australia, securing the gold medal in a dramatic finish. Strong, who pulled off an impressive jackhammer front flip with a fully extended execution – feet gripping the handlebar as he soared – earned a score of 97.66 points. This victory marked Strong’s eighth gold medal in Moto X Best Trick, setting a new record for the most golds in a single Moto X discipline. With this win, Strong’s X Games medal tally stands at 16 (8 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze). The all-Australian podium was filled by Rob Adelberg and Harry Bink.

Eric Johnson caught up with Jackson as the nerves built for the event for this interview – read on!

“My nails get short this time of year as I’m always biting them,” explained the greatest Big Trick rider in X Games history. “Yeah, you’re licking the f@#king stamp and just sending it. It’s definitely a tough one.”

Arguably the gnarliest and most unforgiving (if something goes wrong) contest of ALL contests that will shake out this weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds and Event Centre, Big Trick artist Jackson Strong just might be the respected and even feared athlete of all 150 action sports athletes currently hanging out and waiting for GO time in Ventura.

“It feels good to be in Ventura,” said the Australian on Saturday morning, Big Trick competition day. “It feels like just yesterday that we were at the last X Games. Now it has been 11 or 12 months, or whatever it has been since, and it just seems like it is right around the corner every time. It is really good to be here. I’ve done a lot of riding in the off-season. I’ve been on the bike the whole time and I’m ready to rock, or roll the dice, as they say.”

Having claimed his first X Games gold medal all the way back in 2011, Strong totally realizes there is a target on his back, and as the most accomplished Big Trick highflyer ever, the competition is looking to gun him down out of the sky.

“Yeah, I’ve been at it for a while now. I kind of feel like I’ve been doing it for a long time and have had success over the years, but I’ve also had equally as much defeat out of it, as well. I don’t know… Best Trick is a love-hate relationship. It’s a really tough contest. Especially mentally. Every time out you’re going into doing something bigger than you’ve ever done before and it’s just a real play on the mind to try to get through the event and to get through the weekend. My nails get short this time of year as I’m always biting them. Yeah, you’re licking the f@#king stamp sending it. It’s definitely a tough one.

“Yeah, I’ve done a lot of practice for these X Games,” furthered Strong. “I did a lot more practice on the bike this year, so hopefully I can string it together, you know? I’d love a gold medal, but at the end of the day, I just want to do the trick that I’ve set out to do and get that done and do it clean and if I can do that, well, I’ll be happy. It’s just so hard for me to get through an event these days because what we are doing is so gnarly. It’s a difficult one, for sure.

“It’s just a lot of time and a lot of practice and a lot of time in the foam pit. It’s just repetition over and over. Best Trick doesn’t seem to get any easier each year. It’s like no matter what you’re doing, you are kind of pushing yourself to 100-percent and you just have to perform and to just bring it.”

Runner-up and the silver medal winner in Best Trick 2024, Strong talked about the trick he will unveil come competition time Saturday night in Ventura.

“I went to a different trick than I did last year and just recently I decided to go back to the same trick that I did last year,” explained Strong. “I ended up working on the trick and getting it a lot bigger and a lot cleaner in the foam pit, so I’m really hoping that I can do an extended version of what I did last year. I realized that I still had some more to do with that trick. I wasn’t content with where I left it last year. I’m going to try and send that thing to the moon and get some real extension in that. That’s my X Games focus for this year.

“It’s X Games Best Trick and there is going to be some big new tricks out there, so for me, I just try and stay in my own lane. I don’t try and look at the competition or look at any of that stuff. I just focus on the job I have to do and why I’m here. I’m trying to get that done and that seems to help me mentally and to help me stay a little calmer over the weekend.”

Who does Strong believe he will have to cross swords with in his efforts to head back down under to Australia with more precious metal?

“Look, Rob Adelberg is definitely going to be up at the top. Harry Bink will be up at the top. I don’t know. I don’t know how it is going to play out. Especially when it is one of those things that you can’t really predict it. Whatever happens on the night, happens on the night. You can train all you want and have everything as good as you want and then you can just have a shitty run on the night and that’s it and the year’s work is over. There is so much work involved. I mean 12 months of work boils down to 10 seconds. It’s just about trying to string the whole thing together. It’s just about bringing something new. We’re trying to keep freestyle motocross exciting and trying to make it interesting for the fans to watch. It’s what it’s about. It’s for me, too. I want to leave my mark in the sport and bring some new things to the table. That’s what it’s about. It’s X Games, you know? It’s the big one for the year. Everyone is here and the world is watching. It’s just about trying to keep a good balance of excitement and nerves.

“It’s just Best Trick for me here in Ventura. That’s my strength, so I’m sticking with it. I’ve got so much pressure on me in Best Trick alone, so it’s just too hard for me to try and branch out into anything else. I’ve literally done 12 months of work for one jump. You know I lead a pretty secluded life back in Australia. I just enjoy riding my bike and that’s what it’s about for me. I just want to get out there and do what I set out to do. That’s always the gameplan for me. It’s definitely nerve racking. It’s most my nerve racking weekend of the entre year. It’s a battlefield out there.”


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