Northern Nevada trio on to X Games | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Northern Nevada trio on to X Games

Tribune News Service

Published Caption: Shannon Litz

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – As ESPN opens its 16th annual X Games Thursday in Los Angeles, a trio of motocross stars hailing from Northern Nevada will be vying for medals.

Douglas High graduates Matt Buyten, 30, and Adam Jones, 26, and Carson City resident Mike Mason, 28, are scheduled to compete this weekend.

Jones and Mason will get right into as round one of the Moto X Freestyle event is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. at the L.A. Coliseum. The finals are set for 6:30 p.m.

ESPN will carry live coverage of the freestyle competition, along with its other opening day events, from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Buyten, a two-time X Games gold medalist in the Step Up, is the favorite to win his signature event this year. Step Up is basically the motocross equivalent of track and field’s high jump where participants get a 25-foot start before vaulting up a 12-foot wall in an attempt to clear a bar set at varying heights.

Step Up is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. at the Staples Center. ESPN will include it during its live coverage between 4 and 7:30 p.m.

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Buyten is also listed as an alternate in the Speed & Style event, scheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Staples Center.

While still a solid freestyle rider, Buyten has become best-known for his Step Up skills. Buyten has dominated the Step Up field over the years, winning a pair of gold medals (2003 and 2006) to go with golds at X Games Mexico and X Games Brazil. He’s won the event more times that any of the other invited riders this year.

Buyten has also been a part of some of the most dramatic finals in the sport, including a 17-attempt battle with Jeremy McGrath in 2004. After dislocating his shoulder, Buyten cleared several more attempts before eventually settling for silver.

An all-around rider, Buyten has partnered with the Nuclear Cowboys freestyle tour as well as many NASCAR events.

Jones, a four-time X Games medalist, is considered one of the most innovative riders on the X Games roster.

The inventor of the Cordova flip, Stripper flip, Shaolin flip and Corpse flip, Jones said he prides himself on learning his tricks on dirt rather than in a foam pit.

His accolades include four medals at the X Games with a gold in Freestyle in 2007, an overall winner on the 2008 AST Dew Tour and most recently, Jones won the Egypt stop of the May 2010 Red Bull X-Fighters. Riding since age 10, Adam has been racing and competing in motocross for the last seven years.

Mason, a two-time X Games Moto X Freestyle bronze medalist, returns for his fifth X Games appearance, still looking for his first X Games gold medal.

Raised in a motocross family, Mason has strong technical riding skills and a tweaked-out style that make him a favorite among peers and fans.

Switching his focus from racing to freestyle in 2004, Mason took third overall in the AST Dew Tour year end rankings for Freestyle Motocross.

In 2008, Mason made his first International X Games appearance, winning bronze medals in the Moto X Freestyle and Step Up competitions at X Games Mexico. Famous for his huge Holy Grabs and no-footed can-can-to-Tsunami, Mason took home the 2009 LG Action Sports Freestyle Championship.

The X Games will take over downtown Los Angeles with more than 200 athletes, including the biggest names in action sports, competing for medals in Skateboard, BMX Freestyle, Moto X and Rally Car.

The 16th annual action sports competition, held Thursday-Sunday, will mark the seventh consecutive year that the X Games will take place in Los Angeles.

ESPN first developed its X Games franchise in 1995.