Australia’s Josh Sheehan performed a dazzling jump in front of the 828 metre high Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, to kick off the new season for the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour.
Alongside defending world tour champion Dany Torres, the world’s best freestyle athletes will be chasing a total purse of $1 million.Spaniard Torres is the favourite going into the six-stop 2012 world tour, competing against a field of 11 of the world’s best FMX riders who will be chasing $1 million in prize money and appearance fees this season but Andre Villa of Norway and Sheehan both believe this will be their year to win the Red Bull X-Fighters championship after showing flashes of brilliance in 2011.
“It’s going to be a real battle for first place with a few riders capable of taking the crown,” says Red Bull X-Fighters sports director Tes Sewell. “This year could prove to have so many surprises with injuries and recoveries – and some young blood in the mix.”
Villa was in the thick of things in the championship hunt in 2011 until a late-season injury sidelined him for the final two events while Sheehan came out of nowhere to upset the favourites and win the season finale in Sydney.
Nate Adams, who finished a close second to Torres last year after winning the championship in 2009 and 2010, is still recovering from a shoulder injury and is not in the line-up for Dubai. Australian Blake Williams also has his eye on the top prize after several outstanding performances in 2011. Other top favourites returning to the action this year after being out with injuries are Levi Sherwood of New Zealand and Switzerland’s Mat Rebeaud, the 2008 champion.
The athletes will be leaping up to 30 metres in distance and 15 metres high on the course set up on the beach between the glittering lights of Dubai and the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.