Chad Kagy didn't rise to the top of the BMX world on physical toughness alone. Toughness has helped him put his body through nearly 20 years of active competition, however, including 19 overall X Games appearances since 1998.
This is the man who took on BMX Big Air at X Games Austin 2014 with a broken kneecap. He's undoubtedly tough.
Kagy's bringing that focused intensity back to X Games Austin, where he's set to compete in the first-ever Skateboard/BMX Big Air Doubles competition this Sunday, June 7. His secret is simple: confidence.
"If you don't have confidence, whatever you're thinking is going to happen will happen," he said via phone from his home in State College, Pennsylvania. "If you're thinking you're going to crash because you're going almost 50 miles per hour, you're probably going to crash."
Without confidence, he couldn't stand at the top of the 90-foot-tall Big Air ramp, clear a 50- to 70-foot gap and then tackle a 27-foot quarterpipe. But that's not to say he's unfamiliar with the terrain. Kagy, 36, is decorated with 15 career X Games medals, including seven in Big Air and four in BMX Vert.
In Big Air Doubles, one BMX rider is paired with one skateboarder. Each team gets five runs, with each athlete taking individual runs and receiving an individual gap and quarterpipe score on each run. The final score is a combination of the team's best gap and best quarterpipe scores.
"There's definitely a strategic factor going on in there, that you're hoping your teammate is healthy and feeling just as good as you are," Kagy said.
Kagy's partner is Elliot Sloan, whom he's come to know well over the years. "I've always described his skating style as kind of like a BMXer. He goes for it and he likes to do big tricks," Kagy said. "It's kind of fun to be paired up with somebody where I've always respected their skating style."
Like Sloan, Kagy is at home when he goes big. That prowess earned him gold in BMX Big Air at X Games Munich 2013 after landing a solid cliffhanger backflip over the gap. They've been training separately — Sloan in California and Kagy at Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania. "[Because] we're taking separate runs and being judged separately," Kagy explained, "we've described to each other roughly what we're working on."
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But, of course, he's not giving it away just yet. "Not a chance," Kagy added, amused. "If I haven't figured out how to do it safely and I've called myself out, then my fans are disappointed that they didn't get to see what I'm working on. On the other side of it, it depends on how I'm feeling going into it. I might have to wrestle with the wind, and it changes the dynamic of my tricks."
He's feeling healthy, despite coming off a month-old bone fracture in his foot. Along with confidence, Kagy will be relying on his other best asset: creativity. "I always try to go to every contest with something new and innovative that nobody else does. That's part of being able to stand out in the freestyle world."
Skateboard/BMX Big Air Doubles at X Games Austin 2015 will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN3 on Sunday, June 7, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST. Check the X Games Austin tune-in schedule for updates and more information.
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