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X Games: Who to watch

Ryan Sheckler

A star at 16, Sheckler was the only competitor to land every trick in street skateboarding at the 2003 X Games. That year, he won titles at the Vans Triple Crown, Gravity Games and the World Cup Championships.

Last year he skateboarded into stardom with his MTV reality show, The Life of Ryan.

This year, he is competing in skatepark street and superpark.

Dave Mirra

With 13 gold medals, Mirra is the most decorated athlete in X Games history and is as big in the BMX world as Tony Hawk is to skateboarding. This year, he will be busy with BMX freestyle big air and superpark and rally car racing, an event other action sports legends, such as Travis Pastrana, have participated in.

Action sports have always stood out for the personalities attracted. There are eccentrics, daredevils, free spirits, and in some cases, downright wackos. It takes a rare quality to fly down a ramp and let a skateboard, bicycle or motorcycle fling you a few feet in the air. After all, accidents happen. Starting Thursday, these athletes will come together for X Games 14 in Los Angeles. Here are some athletes to watch: Jake Brown

Most action sports athletes have a masochistic willingness to fall, again and again, in pursuit of the perfect trick. The possibility of physical harm is very real. Busted body parts often are a fact of life.

Brown knows. At last year's X Games, Brown was separated from his skateboard after launching himself above a quarter-pipe. He fell 46 feet — the equivalent of a four-story building — and crashed so hard his shoes blew off. He eventually walked away with relatively minor injuries.

Brown is back and will compete in the big air competition.

Kevin Robinson

Robinson, a BMX superstar, broke the world record last month by soaring more than 26 1/2 feet above the top of a 27-foot-high ramp.

The stunt was part of an event in New York's Central Park, where he needed more than an hour and six attempts to hit 26.7 feet. He tried one more time and added 5 inches to his record. Two years ago, he won the BMX freestyle best trick event on the halfpipe. He followed by taking gold in the freestyle big-air competition, the first ever at the X Games.

He will compete in freestyle vert and freestyle big air.

Shaun White

An Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding, White is starting to duplicate his success in skateboarding. From 2005-06, he tried to become the first skater to land the 1080 spin (three full rotations). The best-trick category was removed last year, so White focused on vert skating and won his first X Games gold medal. He is back to defend his title.

Ricky Carmichael

Three years ago, the Clearwater-born star became the first to win both heats in all 12 events of the 250cc class. Carmichael also is the first with 100 combined AMA motocross and supercross victories. Last year, he was in the first-ever moto x racing event and competed against Dade City's Tim Ferry and Chad Reed among others. This year, Carmichael is in moto step up.

X Games 14

When/where: Thursday-Sunday, Los Angeles and Carson, Calif.

TV: 14 hours live on ESPN and ABC. Thursday night: 8-11, ESPN.

X Games: Who to watch 07/29/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 9:57am]

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