Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Motocross rider Ronnie Renner to compete in Step Up at X Games

Ronnie Renner jumps 34 feet with his motorcycle to tie for the Moto X Step Up title at X Games 15 in 2009.

X Games (2009)

Ronnie Renner jumps 34 feet with his motorcycle to tie for the Moto X Step Up title at X Games 15 in 2009.

Much like track and field, the X Games is a loosely knit conglomeration of events. And the Moto X Step Up competition is the equivalent of the pole vault.

But instead of slashing down a runway like a sprinter and vaulting into the air on a fiberglass pole, Moto X Step Up riders rocket up a dirt ramp on a motorcycle and try to clear a bar.

Ronnie Renner, a River Ridge High graduate, knows there are similarities between the events. To prepare for last year's X Games, Renner worked with Chelsea Johnson, the 2009 silver medalist in the pole vault at the world championships. They shared tips on training for big meets and shot a YouTube video that has generated buzz.

Renner, who won the X Games Step Up title in 2007 and tied for first in '09, finished second last year to Matt Buyten, who won by a foot with a height of 331/2 feet. Renner, 34, also has competed in Moto X Speed and Style, but he is dropping that event to concentrate on Step Up for this year's X Games, which start today in Los Angeles.

"This is the big daddy for me," Renner said of Step Up.

For years Renner and Buyten have dueled in their signature event. Buyten has won X Games gold in Step Up three times (2003, '06, '10). Last year their competition went into overtime.

"We have had quite a few squareoffs, and I have a feeling more is to come," Renner said.

Before Renner was a jumper, he was a racer. He began learning his craft when he was 4 on the challenging dirt obstacle course at Dade City Raceway, a small-town track known for producing big-time motocross pros. Ricky Carmichael and James "Bubba" Stewart used to dust rivals at the Dade City track on the amateur circuit. So did Travis Pastrana, one of the X Games' most decorated athletes.

After spinning tires at Dade City, Renner learned to jump at the Croom Motorcycle Area in the Withlacoochee State Forest near Brooksville. He started to get serious about motocross when he was 16. He was a strong racer but realized he could make more money in freestyle, so he stopped racing and began jumping full time at 23.

Since then he's been trying to reach new heights.

In 2009 Renner set a freestyle motocross world record for biggest air off a quarter pipe, clearing 63 feet, 5 inches on a jump in Chicago.

Renner has moved away from competitive jumping and is trying to revive free riding, in which riders find natural jumps in hills and sand dunes. He has a free riding tour sponsored by Red Bull.

"I'm kind of selfishly carving my own path," Renner said. "I'm not starting a revolution. I'm just finding a way to do what I want on my motorcycle."

Still, he finds time for his main event at the X Games.

Renner trains at a test track for the event, though the dirt is drier and slicker at the X Games.

"You can practice, but as soon as the event begins, everyone goes way higher than they would in a practice," Renner said.

So Renner tries to gain any edge he can, even if it means picking up tips from a pole vaulter.

>>fast facts

X Games 17

When/where: Today to Sunday, Los Angeles

TV: 25 hours live on ESPN, ESPN2 and Ch. 28.

TV tonight: 7, ESPN

Floridians competing at X Games 17

Ashley FiolekSt. AugustineMoto X Enduro X,

Moto X Racing
Ty MorrowWest Palm BeachBMX Freestyle Street
Jessica PattersonTallahasseeMoto X Racing
Adam TaylorCocoa BeachSkateboard Big Air, Vert
Jimmy WalkerOcalaBMX Freestyle, Vert

Motocross rider Ronnie Renner to compete in Step Up at X Games 07/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.