Big Air, Big Time

The first Right Guard Open is set to let action sports pros loose in Denver.

Jay Eggleston didn't know he was getting career guidance in 1985 when he saw pictures in magazines showing daring young guys performing tricks on BMX bikes. He just knew he wanted to do what they were doing, so he asked his dad to build him a then-novel quarter pipe in their Denver driveway. When he'd mastered that challenge, Eggleston moved on to ride a friend's larger half-pipe. There was no pro stunt circuit then, just the thrill of confronting the unknown. Multiple concussions, a broken sternum and other bruised parts later, Eggleston -- who turned pro in 1996 -- still has a passion.

"You never like getting hurt, but it's great fun riding," says the 33-year-old Denver competitor.

And he's excited about riding in the inaugural Right Guard Open, starting Thursday, July 7, and running through Sunday, July 10, at the Pepsi Center. The showcase, the second leg of the five-city national Dew Action Sports Tour, will feature some 150 riders and skaters competing in six events: skateboarding (vert and park), BMX (vert, park and dirt) and motocross freestyle.

Eggleston will perform his high-flying BMX stunts in the vert category, aiming to soar twelve feet higher than the thirteen-and-a-half foot pipe. Others will bring their best, too. BMX dirt star Ryan Nyquist will launch from large earthen jumps that offer the fearless a chance to "go big" and still land safely. Skateboard park rider Ryan Sheckler will navigate the course, hoping to impress judges with his creativity. And freestyle motocross rider Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg will rocket his machine off huge dirt jumps. Competitors will earn points that accumulate over the tour, with the biggest winners crowned champs. Think NASCAR with smaller wheels.

"This is something that might not have worked five years ago, but the time is right now," says Wade Martin, general manager of the tour. Unlike past single-event action sport spectacles, the ongoing tour is designed to give "consistency and context" to these individual sports, he adds. While the Open is at the Pepsi Center, many of the events will be held outside in the arena's parking area, where fans can get an up-close view of action sports and its stars, as well as access to many interactive games that put spectators in the driver's seat. There will also be live outdoor rock concerts Friday and Saturday nights, from 9 to 11 p.m.

In the Mile High City, Eggleston and the open hope to go big.

 
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