The X Games always have been a celebration of daredevilry, a way to showcase young athletes involved in individual sports outside the mainstream. The trouble is it only happens once a year. Athletes at these flash-point events compete at levels most of us can barely fathom, building up mountains of goodwill and some level of celebrity before receding from the public consciousness. What they needed was a league to call their own. Now they have an established one. The Dew Action Sports Tour, a five-stop nationwide series featuring skateboarding, BMX and motocross freestyle disciplines, is in its fourth season and is broadcast on NBC. The tour makes its final stop this weekend in Orlando, where overall winners in each of the disciplines will be announced.
"For our liveliness, I think the Dew Action Tour has been good," said vert skateboarder Bucky Lasek, who won the overall title two years ago. "Few people have been given a stage of this caliber to perform. I think it's something that action sports deserve."
The setup is similar to the PGA Tour. Each stop is a four-day event, there are leaderboards and a pool of money paid according to how the athletes place.
"I think most of the athletes like it because it's not just one contest," BMX park rider Daniel Dhers said. "The people that run the event are awesome because they get a lot of input from us on the design of the ramps and how they flow."
This year, there is a $2.5-million tour purse and a prize structure built around a points system that keeps many of the athletes in the hunt for the title, much like NASCAR's Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.
The goal is to keep the athletes and fans interested.
Some of the A-list stars are high-tailing it before the season ends, such as Shaun White, the former snowboarding Olympic champion and X Games star who participated in just a few stops this season.
But the finale will have talent. Skateboarder Ryan Sheckler will be there, as well as Lasek and Dhers.
Five athletes to watch
The two-time defending freestyle motocross champion is second in points (140) and needs a big run to vault ahead of leader Adam Jones (165) and Robbie Madison (145).
The BMX park superstar has won all four events and is virtually guaranteed of winning his third straight Dew Cup title in his event. If Dhers wins this weekend, he will become the first athlete on the tour to complete a perfect season.
A regular on the tour, Lasek won the Dew Cup title in 2006 and is the leader in points (335) going into the final. He is in a close race in points with Bob Burnquist (320), Andy Macdonald (310) and Pierre Luc-Gagnon (308).
The 14-year-old freshman from Chicago won at the last tour stop and is in contention for the overall title in skateboard park. He is eight points behind Ryan Sheckler.
A star at 16, Sheckler was the only competitor to land every trick in street skateboarding at the 2003 X Games. He also is a three-time Dew Cup champion in skateboard park and is in the lead for his fourth title.