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Buyten gearing up for XGames

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

Carson City resident Matt Buyten has traveled to Los Angeles this weekend to compete in some ground-breaking events in the ninth annual X Games.

Buyten, 23, born at the South Shore in Tahoe but now living in Carson City, qualified in motocross step up and freestyle for his first-ever trip to the games.

Most of the X Games events are held at either Staples Center or the L.A. Coliseum and are featured in taped television coverage. Buyten will compete in step up today and in freestyle on Saturday.

In step up, the rider starts from a stationary position between 15-20 feet out, then takes his bike up a 15-foot vertical dirt face and leaps into the air in order to clear a horizontal bar tucked between two uprights at the top of the jump. After each round the bar is raised 6 inches until a winner is determined.

In freestyle, 16 riders on 250 cc motocross bikes try to get the biggest air with high-flying stunts in 90 seconds. Scoring is based on tricks, execution, use of the course, landing and overall impression.

“I went to all the X Games qualifiers (three) and did pretty well,” Buyten said. “I used to race motorcycles, but I couldn’t really afford to race all the time. I was always into tricks anyway, so I just switched over to the freestyle life.”

Early on, it looks like Buyten has his work cut out for him to claim a gold medal in either discipline. Competing this year is Tommy “Tomcat” Clowers, the two-time defending step up champion and record holder for the highest jump, as well as Nate Adams, the current World Freestyle Association champion in both freestyle and big air.

“This is my first year, so I’m going to try to at least get a top 10 in freestyle and maybe try for the gold medal in step up,” Buyten said.

More on Buyten can be found on his Website, http://www.mattbuyten.com.

MCELROY COMPETES

Fernley’s Drake McElroy is also scheduled to compete in Saturday’s freestyle motorcross, an event in which he took the bronze medal at last year’s X Games.