The man had ridden twice and was nearly perfect both times. The other riders, watching him put air between him and the earth that they could not match, watching him twist and contort in those moments of seemingly endless flight, knew then that it was over.
Because it was Jamie Bestwick, the man who had won the BMX Vert gold medal two years in a row, and everybody else.
And on Saturday, Bestwick was best, again, scoring 49 (out of 50) on his first two runs, which got him gold, again, the third year in a row.
“You knew for a fact that he was going to fire out with everything he could,” said Chad Kagy, who took silver. “Just surprising that he ended up doing it with back-to-back near-perfect runs.
After those runs, though, Bestwick injured himself when he tried to pull off a switch-540. He lay on the bottom of the vert ramp for nearly two minutes.
Even then, there wasn’t much time left in the finals for the other riders to close the gap.
“I’ve heard people say it’s a forgone conclusion based on Jamie’s first run,” said Simon Tabron, who won bronze and has competed against Bestwick before. “I’ve not felt that way, but tonight, honestly…we were kind of competing for second place.
“Really from that point, unless Moses appeared next to the ramp and parted the Red Sea or some crazy miracle, we were competing for second place.”
Bestwick said he noticed in the preliminary rounds that he was getting more air than the other riders, and they weren’t quite “catching the flow of the ramp.”
And since he was riding first, the goal became to put some “serious heat on everybody, so I just blazed it straight from the off.”
Afterwards, he said he felt “a bit woozy. Couldn’t tell you a lot about what went on in the contest. I actually just watched it on ABC. It looked good. It looked really good.”
-- Baxter Holmes
Photo: Jamie Bestwick competes in the BMX Freestyle Vert Final. Credit: Lori Shepler/Associated Press