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Henry Easy Winner in Supermoto at X Games

August 8, 2005

CARSON, Calif. (AP) _ Doug Henry coasted to an easy victory in supermoto and Danny Way flew to another skateboard big air title as the X Games wrapped up Sunday with a dip in overall attendance.

Henry, a 35-year-old AMA motocross rider from Torrington, Ct., led the field of 20 for 33 of the 45 laps on a dirt and asphalt course in the Home Depot Center. The race included mandatory pit stops that he said kept him looking over his shoulder despite a comfortable lead.

``I was just constantly waiting for somebody to come out of the pits right beside me,″ he said. ``I didn’t want to get lazy with my riding.″

Jeremy McGrath of Encinitas was second and Chad Reed of Dade City, Fla., was third.

There was slightly more suspense at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, as vert winner Pierre-Luc Gagnon took the lead early in skateboard big air. But Way, creator of the mega ramp used in the event, pulled off a frontside 360 and so-called Christ Air to take his second straight title with a 94.75 score.

In the trick, he jumped across a 70-foot gap and soared off a 27-foot quarter pipe, then stuck both arms out to the side in mid-air, holding his board in one hand. He then moved his board back under his feet to stick the second landing.

The 31-year-old Way was one of three athletes depicted on a huge X Games advertisement painted on a hotel wall overlooking the event, and had been expected to win easily despite a leg injury.

``I felt the pressure to win last year because everyone expected me to. So this year with this mural on the wall, they put me in the same position,″ he said. ``It was just a lot of pressure again. I feel very relieved of all the stress. I want to go fishing, man.″

Last month, Way earned headlines for jumping across the Great Wall of China atop his board, becoming the first person to clear the wall without motorized aid. At a section of the wall about a 40-minute drive from Beijing, he completed four jumps with 360-degree spins on three of them.

The nation’s biggest action sports competition ended its four-day run with overall attendance down from last year. About 122,000 people showed up at the four venues, compared to 170,000 last year. Attendance had previously grown every year the games were held, but this was the first time they stayed in one city for three straight years.

Event general manager Chris Stiepock said the dip was partly the result of shifting the surfing event from Huntington Beach some 2,000 miles south to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, for its bigger waves.

``We lost 25,000 spectators and gained 7 feet of surf,″ he said. He also speculated that a distribution of the popular motocross events across all four days may have hurt attendance.

``If I’m a family of four, I might just pick one of those days to come,″ he said.

Though there was more widespread TV coverage of the games through the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, they got less prime-time coverage on ABC compared to last year. X Games executive director Jack Wienert said he didn’t know why that was, but noted that in-line skating had been dropped for lackluster TV ratings.

``They weren’t happy about it,″ he said of the skaters. ``But it’s not our job to grow their sport.″

The X Games will remain in Los Angeles through 2009 under an agreement with venue owner Anschutz Entertainment Group.

But AEG is also launching a new development project around Staples Center and contests held this year in the arena parking lot _ including skateboard big air and Moto X best trick _ are being forced out next year, Wienert said.

Some will move to the Home Depot Center but the huge mega ramp on busy Figueroa Street serves as a constant reminder of the competition’s presence.

``No offense to Carson, but we’re surrounded by freeways here. ... I’d like to keep it downtown,″ Wienert said, adding that ESPN officials would be scouting for possible new locations.

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