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A Step Up for UCS at X Games 15


UCS is setting the bar for X Games 15

A New Step Up Set-Up
New equipment will offer stability and accuracy
July 24, 2009, 9:12 PM

Ricky Carmichael sails above his likeness. And the older, much less stable Step Up bar. XG '08.
The competition in Moto X Step Up has become more serious. Bike set-up has become more specific. The amount of emphasis placed on this event by the riders, fans and promoters has increased. For years the Step Up course builders have made adjustments to the lip and landing, constantly searching for a better hit, reaching for bigger heights. For 2009, builder Dane Herron decided to pay more attention to accuracy in measurement.

Ricky Carmichael sails above his likeness. And the older, much less stable Step Up bar. XG '08.
Step Up is simple. It's a motorcycle high jump, or pole vaulting with a motorcycle instead of a pole. Riders hit a 12-foot vertical wall to catapult body and machine over a rod that loosely rests upon a set of uprights. The PVC pipe-based set-up that's been in use by XG for years wobbles and sways when a rider clips the bar. Adjustments are difficult and putting the bar back on the uprights has always been a clumsy—and sometimes comical—chore. Herron knew there must be a better way, so he called up UCS Inc., a premier manufacturer of track and field equipment and suppliers of four Olympics. Their equipment has also helped break many pole vaulting world records. Herron wanted uprights (called "standards" in the pole vaulting biz) that were solid, more stable and that could provide more accurate measurements.

"I also wanted something I could move horizontally," Herron said. Having this ability allows Herron and his crew to change the horizontal position of the bar riders jump over as well as the vertical position. This will mean a proper placement of the bar no matter how the lip is constructed.

In the old design, the uprights were simply drilled into the sides of the lip/landing. Herron's stability wishes were fulfilled when Chris Chappell of UCS built him a set of aluminum-alloy standards that weigh 400 pounds each and will rest flat on the ground on either side of the dirt hit with a support cross piece connecting them just a few feet off the ground. "We just took our basic design for pole vault and more or less beefed it up," Chappell said. "Dane's request presented very unique challenges, as this is the only event in the world of its kind. The most challenging part was to create something with such height while maintaining stability. We had to come up with a design that would be stable and secure while allowing adjustments for multiple setup locations depending on venues, etc."

Having such stability will allow for a more pure measurement because there won't be any sway in the standards. As for the crossbar that the athletes will jump, UCS's design employs the same strict regulations as pole vaulting. "It can only have two millimeters of sag when it's sitting idle and it has a good bounce to it when struck," Chappell said.

When the bar does fall to the ground, the course crew will be able to replace it more quickly. They will also be able to raise the height in six-inch increments with perfect accuracy because the grooves are machined into the standards.

The set-up is elaborate and may not allow riders to jump any higher, but it gives Herron better control of a key component in a competition that already has enough challenges for both organizers and athletes.

Written By: B.J. Smith of ESPN
Original Article: http://espn.go.com/action/xgames/xg15/countdown/blog?post=4354925

The 15th annual action sports competition will be held in Los Angeles July 30—August 2, 2009, and will feature the world's best athletes competing in BMX, Moto X, Skateboarding and Rally Car Racing. Tickets for X Games 15 will be available for purchase beginning June 25 at the STAPLES Center and Nokia Theater box offices as well as online at Ticketmaster.


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