From the May/June 2011 issue of ATV Rider Magazine
In our May/June 2010 issue we first told you about the Moore brothers’ (Caleb and Colten) historic crossover from ATVs to snowmobiles in order to compete at the Winter X Games. At that time, the freestyle duo had spent roughly a month aboard sleds, yet somehow managed not only to qualify for but medal at the event (Freestyle bronze for Caleb). Coming into 2011’s Winter X Games 15, it was time for the Texans to prove that 2010 was no fluke and that the year of experience hadn’t been wasted. What no one expected (except maybe for the Moores themselves) was that they would steal the show.
The last week of January 2011 will go down in history as something special. Why exactly, I’m not sure, but what we witnessed was surely historic. To be honest, no one but the Moore brothers and their inner circle was certain of what would happen at this year’s X Games. Despite residing on the fringe of that circle, I wasn’t sure of what might go down, and while I certainly hoped they’d do well at the games while carrying the entire ATV freestyle community on their backs, I didn’t expect to witness history.
A lot has happened with the Moore boys in the last 12 months since their Winter X debut. As one can only imagine, the title X Games athlete can do tons for your career, and the Moores’ management team hasn’t let that fact go unnoticed. Last year was busy for Caleb; despite suffering multiple broken bones and injuries he stayed on the road with the Crusty Demons Tour in Australia, while Colten joined the U.S.-based Nuclear Cowboyz Tour. Whenever there were gaps on their respective tours the brothers filled those dates with freestyle shows both domestically and abroad. On top of that, they opened up their lives to a film crew while filming for a yet untitled reality show based on their freestyle exploits and started their own clothing company, Slang Co.
Winter X 15: Snowmobile Freestyle
The freestyle competition took place on Thursday, January 27, and it was immediately apparent that this year would be different
Colten and Caleb Moore have...
Colten and Caleb Moore have put ATV FMX on the map. The funny thing is; they’ve done it on sleds.
Unlike last year, the brothers looked way more confident and ready. The month leading up to the event was spent in Minnesota at the home of longtime friend Ben Bettis and his roommate Jay Webber. This allowed the brothers to train and hone their skills in a comfortable (almost family-like) environment, and the results of that training were immediately obvious. A confident Caleb is a dangerous Caleb, and while little brother Colten’s class clown persona seems a bit more laid-back, the truth is he might be even more competitive and intense than his brother when it comes to honing his craft.
Afternoon practice went down without a hitch, and you could almost see their competitors’ wind being taken out of their sails. While most everyone else put on their poker faces and practiced tentatively in an attempt to conceal their hands, the Moores threw their cards (well, most of them) on the table and stomped trick after trick with little regard for the poker game everyone else was playing. The question in the pits (and press center) was what it might be that they were holding back. The atmosphere in the Moore pits, on the other hand, was relaxed; every few minutes it seemed like there was an airport run, and trip by trip, the entourage and confidence level simultaneously grew. By competition time, 30 hand-selected members of the Moore family and the Bomb Squad freestyle team were on hand, all waving Texas flags and all personally invited by Wade Moore, father of the brothers.
In what can only be described as tough luck for Colten, he tied for the final transfer position into the main event and lost the tiebreaker due to a lower first run score (ironically, Caleb had the same score but in a different bracket). With all eyes on Caleb, he threw down a flawless run, only to be controversially underscored in what would become the recurring theme of the Moore brothers’ Winter X 15 experience. A bronze medal would once again have to do for Caleb, but despite obvious disappointment, the entourage kept the Texas flags waving. Back at the Moore cabin, a steady stream of friends and family filtered in, and Thursday night’s celebration was nothing less than a good old-fashioned Texas-style throw-down, with three generations of family and most of their friends and teammates in attendance.
Friday and Saturday were actually quite mellow by Moore family standards. Outside of the film crew’s presence, a dozen autograph signings and a last-minute addition to the Speed And Style competition for Caleb (he was an alternate, and really just filled a spot for the ESPN cameras as his focus was Best Trick, and he wisely didn’t want to jeopardize that), everything was laid-back at headquarters. The cabin itself was noteworthy, yet despite the nearly 7,000 square feet and five bedrooms, it wasn’t the size that impressed but the dynamic of the nearly 25 occupants. You see, the Moores didn’t rent the cabin to show off, but rather to make sure they would have enough room to accommodate everyone who had flown or driven themselves to Colorado in their support. It was some time during the off days that I realized the key ingredient to the Moore brothers’ success. Not to give away any of their secrets, but the truth is they feed off of the support of their family, and that is what drives them to succeed. They’re simply at their best when their grandfather, parents and friends are around, and if that means renting a house the size of a hotel, so be it.
Best Trick: 0.0 (Making History)
The Moore brothers with ecstatic...
The Moore brothers with ecstatic Team Manager BC Vaught just moments after the historic Tandem Backflip/Indian Air.
Sunday grew a bit more intense as the Best Trick competition drew closer. This year, realizing that Snowmobile Best Trick is second only to Men’s SuperPipe (where Shawn White competes), ESPN let the two events close out the games, essentially making them co-headliners. With over 40,000 spectators in attendance and no other events taking place, it’s safe to say all eyes were on Best Trick. Eight competitors would get two shots at landing something worth a medal, with scores (supposedly) based on innovation and execution. As luck would have it, the Moores would run back to back, with Caleb going fourth and Colten fifth.
Here’s where things got kind of tricky. There’s a prejudice or stigma in freestyle circles that goes against ATV riders; it’s the same thing many of you experience when racing or riding at MX tracks, and although it sounds paranoid, it’s true. As ATV riders, we’re sometimes deemed the redheaded stepchildren of off-road competition. Compounding the situation, is the fact that the snowmobile community isn’t really sure what to make of the Moore brothers After all, they came out of nowhere, and through innovation (or sheer balls) are pushing snowmobile freestyle into places where many of the stalwarts of the sport are simply not yet comfortable to go. With that said, the judging panel at Winter X is comprised of nothing but dirt bike and snowmobile freestylers.
Now that that’s out of the way, the first runs of the competition were pretty epic. Like last year, the Moore brothers took the innovation theme to heart, with Caleb executing the first ever Carolla on a snowmobile, and Colten throwing down with a never-before-seen Suicide, No-Hander Flip. After seven of eight competitors were done, the Moore brothers sat in the top two spots of the leader board.
Even though they pulled off...
Even though they pulled off the best trick ever seen on a sled, the brothers were not only denied Winter X gold but any score at all.
Then the first of many things that would eventually set the stage for history happened. Daniel Bodin busted out a Seat grab, Indy Backflip, which while well executed was neither new, innovative nor unseenhe actually busted about 10 of them during Freestyle three nights earlier. Yet, the judges scored it well above Caleb’s Carolla. Going into the second round, Caleb upped the ante by repeating the Carolla and adding a no-handed landing to boot, making it his second never-before-seen trick of the evening. Despite the combination, the judges scored it three-tenths of a point below Bodin’s first run, essentially taking Caleb out of gold medal contention. The crowd reacted by booing, and the disappointment in Caleb’s face was broadcast to everyone in attendance via Jumbotron. Just like any good TV production company would do, ESPN sent their pit reporter to Caleb to get the scoop. That’s about the time that step two in the historic event happened. While not particularly brash, Caleb is a Texan, and as such isn’t really one to sugarcoat things. So it should come as no surprise that when asked what he thought of the scoring, he told it like it was, essentially calling out the judges on their contradictions about innovation in front of the thousands in attendance.
Three-time Winter X Games...
Three-time Winter X Games medalist Caleb Moore
Colten was up next, and those few minutes of his life will surely define him for years to come. It was no secret that he was equally, if not more disappointed about the judging than Caleb, so rather than ride straight to the ramps, he decided to work on getting the crowd a bit more riled up. This is where things got weird, and the game seemed to change. Colten hopped off of his sled, waved Caleb over, hopped on the back, and the duo made a beeline for the ramp. Before anyone from ESPN, the crowd or insane asylum could react, the brothers launched themselves into history books by busting out a gigantic tandem backflip, to which Colten added an oversize Indian Air just for good measure. The crowd lost its mind, and the announcers lost their ability to string words together. The judging booth went into a panic, as they hadn’t really prepared for such a thing, and while the Moore brothers celebrated their successful landing, the overwhelming sense that we had just witnessed history took over the crowd. It was Winter X 15’s Tony Hawk’s 900 or Travis Pastrana’s Double Backflip moment, and the show was pretty much over even though there were competitors still waiting to complete their second run. The crowd’s energy combined with the insanity of the tandem flip made it a special moment for everyone in attendance. Although the jump was scored a 0.0, you’d never know it by the celebration that was taking place both on and off the course, Texas flags were flying, and the air was thick with a sense of euphoria. The next two competitors’ runs kind of flew under the radar, but when it came to Bodin, he felt he had been called out and, to his credit, even though he already had the gold medal locked he busted out a huge Double Grab Backflip over the 120-foot bar jump. The judges breathed a huge sigh of relief, as it was indeed big, new and well executed; they were so grateful that Bodin had helped them save face that they heavily overscored him yet again.
Colten Moore traded a chance...
Colten Moore traded a chance at a medal for a guaranteed spot in history.
You would never know the Moore brothers hadn’t won the competition by the crowd’s response; no matter where they went they were bombarded with autograph and picture requests. The medal ceremony was even more bizarre, as the cheers for Caleb’s Best Trick competition silver medal were on par with those of Shawn White’s Men’s SuperPipe competition gold, and when you’re in the same ballpark as the biggest name in action sports it’s a good thing. That evening ESPN’s Sport Center ranked the tandem flip as the No. 4 sports highlight (no other X Games discipline made the list), and X Center ran a great interview with the brothers. By Monday morning, action sports star radio show host Jason Ellis was ranting about the trick on his Sirius/XM radio show, and YouTube was being filled with videos of not only the trick, but of rooms full of people reacting to it. Facebook (which has become somewhat of a social barometer) was even more impressive, as the brothers received literally thousands of friend requests within the first 48 hours of the Best Trick competition. The long-term effects of the exposure to the Moore brothers’ career obviously aren’t known yet, but one thing is for sure: It was a game-changing moment that is sure to go down in history. ATVR
The proud Texas entourage...
The proud Texas entourage is the secret ingredient to the Moore brothers’ success.
The now infamous Tandem Backflip/Indian...
The now infamous Tandem Backflip/Indian Air.