The Wind Is Still Howling
The Yedikule Dungeons sits in the background with large walls ofering the perfect location for an FMX event, so close but so far away! Photo: rebullxfighters.com/T.Moze
Holding an outdoor FMX event is always going to have its problems, weather being the biggest! Last night Redbull X-Fighters cancelled its first event in a very long time thanks to extreme windy conditions making it unsafe for riders to compete. Thinking back I don't even know if they have cancelled an event before without a result already locked in from qualifying?
Levi Sherwoods hat blowing off signalled it was way to windy to ride. Photo: rebullxfighters.com/B.Gardi
X-Fighters events don't get cancelled easily, conditions have to be gnarly before such a decision is made, and it always comes down to rider safety!
One of the reasons Red Bull X-Fighters has been so successful over the years is the iconic locations chosen for its events since its inception over a decade ago now. Can you even imagine how hard it must be to get permision to set up a course on the Red Square in Moscow, in front of the Sphinx of Giza in Eygpt, at the heritage listed Cockatoo Island in Sydney to name a few?
It takes years of planning.
Inside the Yedikule Dungeons, what a location!
For several years Redbull has promoted the X-Fighters brand through FMX demos/shows across many Turkish cities, and the 2012 stop in Istanbul was set to be the big climax held inside the Yedikule Dungeons, which would have provided the ultimate location for a freestyle motocross competition because of its surrounding large stone walls providing protection from outside elements such as wind.
But for some reason it just wasn't meant to be as four days out from the main event the location was shutdown thanks to an over-reaction by government to a motorcycle incident that happened weeks prior to X-Fighters getting started.
When this news dropped the X-Fighters crew already had the course 75 per cent built, plus the lighting and infrastructure was close to being set-up. Faced with moving the event to a new location with only a few days spare most people would throw in the towel, but not the X-Fighters crew.
Redbull X-Fighters Sports Director Tes Sewell is the man who has to make the big calls, not an easy job! Photo: rebullxfighters.com/B.Gardi
What I witnessed in a space of 48 hours was remarkable. Course builders went into overdrive moving dirt around the clock with little time to rest. Endless amounts of infrastructure was relocated and set-up in a new location. Basically what should have taken at least one week to create only took a fraction of the time.
The X-Fighters crew worked around the clock to have the course and infracstructure ready in time, massive effort guys! Photo: rebullxfighters.com/B.Gardi
Then the wind came, and it howled non-stop for days, in fact it is still howling now as I write this. Usually wind dies when the sun goes down in most places close to the ocean that have high temperatures during the day, but not in Istanbul!
Jeremy Rouanet was excited about riding his first X-Fighters event, and he looked good in practice! Photo: rebullxfighters.com/S.Marko
Watching the crowd pile in early through the gates eager to witness their first X-Fighters competition and knowing there was a chance the show might not go on is hard for all involved. With every 10-minutes that went by prayers went out for some reprieve, but last night it just wasn't meant to be.
Today it's all about packing down and moving on. The riders go home with no points, just the memory of a windy city and knowing they at least put on a demonstration in dangerous conditions that at least put a smile on thousands of Turkish people's faces.
In the end it always comes down to rider's safety, and it was just way to windy to hold a competition! Photo: rebullxfighters.com/B.Gardi
And what about Redbull, it must really suck for them seeing many years of hard work and a huge amount of money spent trying to create the greatest FMX event on earth, go down the drain. It's a big blow, but thanks to Redbull the show will go on in a months time when the tour hits Madrid, Spain, where hopefully the weather gods are kind and we get to see the world's best riders go head-to-head in what I believe is the most exciting and entertaining sports on the planet!
The Turkish fans held on patiently and appreciated the riders putting on a small show, maybe next time they'll get to experience the full deal! Photo: rebullxfighters.com/B.Gardi