Living out a dream

Ryan Cooke
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Bezanson returns home after first X Games medal

ONSLOW MOUNTAIN – In an upstairs loft, sheets of quarter-inch plywood lay bent and tacked around a frame built from two-by-fours. Scuffed and worn in most places, the old half-pipe wears the marks of a teenager’s countless hours spent riding back and forth.

 

“It’s hard to put a number on how much time I spent up here,” he said as he gazed across the ramp, which he and his father built. “The number of times I went up and down must be in the billions.”

Hanging from his neck is a memento of all the work put into crafting an odd career choice for a kid from Onslow Mountain. As he props his forearms on the handlebars of his bike, the piece of hardware drapes over a gash on his elbow – a reminder that no amount of practice in his parent’s old shed could take away the blood, sweat and tears. Dangling to the front tire is an X Games silver medal.

Growing up in Colchester County, Bezanson was an avid extreme sports fan with a particular love for motocross and BMX. He can remember where he was during the 2002 X Games when Mike Metzger hit the first backflip on a dirt bike and Mat Hoffman landed a no-handed 900.

“I can remember being at a friend’s house down the street,” he said. “I never even thought about going to the X Games when I was a kid. It was on the same level as going to the moon.”

Fast forward 12 years and a 24-year-old Drew Bezanson stood at the top of the course in Austin, Texas, waiting for his turn to drop in for the final run of his 2014 X Games.

It wasn’t his first rodeo, however. In fact it was his sixth trip to the Games, the pinnacle event for extreme sports. After doing several amateur competitions with the support of his parents, Dave and Laura, Bezanson’s name began to grow. In 2010, things really began snowballing. He won medals at competitions all around the world. He became a web sensation with viral videos. He locked down a sponsorship deal with Red Bull. All those feats were great, but they couldn’t replace the one he kept missing, however.

 “X Games was always my kryptonite,” he said. “I’ve reached podiums and won medals all around the world, but X Games has always gotten away from me.”

His first year competing at the Games, he finished dead last. Last year, in one of three X Games hosted in Europe, he narrowly missed a chance to compete for a medal. He kept it all with him, keeping notes on his feelings to look back on later.

I never even thought about going to the X Games when I was a kid. It was on the same level as going to the moon Drew Bezanson

This year would be different, he was sure of it. After narrowly making it into the final and falling in his previous two runs, he was ready to lay it all on the line.

“I worked way too hard to not get it done on that third run,” he said. “I spent too much time and prepared too hard to just give up.”

He dropped in to the course with the intent of going faster and higher than any other competitor. The next minute was a carefully planned blur, as he blazed through the course with a controlled sense of chaos. Sixty seconds later he emerged with a smile on his face – finally, a perfect run on the big stage.

“It just felt so good to know you finally did it,” he said. “To know you finally killed it after (failure) being stuck in your head for so long.”

Despite all his successes, Bezanson remains humble. He hesitates and smiles when using the word “fans” to describe the one million-plus people who have checked him out on YouTube. It’s all still an odd thing for a small-town kid from the Maritimes.

“It’s still all surreal to me,” he said.

Back home in Onslow Mountain for a short vacation, Bezanson is soaking in all the time he can with friends and family. After taking them out for brunch, he returns back to the old shed again with his girlfriend, Melissa. Despite the medals and sponsorships, it’s the people in his life he treasures most. Without them, success would be impossible, he said.

After all, he did build a half-pipe in his parents shed.

“Not a lot of kids are lucky enough to have a dad who will do that for them.”

Organizations: X Games

Geographic location: Onslow Mountain, Colchester County, Austin, Texas Europe

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