47 Facts About X Games Skateboarding


Everything You Need to Know About X Games Skateboarding History

For many of our GOSKATE students and instructors, the X Games was the first door that opened us to the larger world of skateboarding and action sports. We turned on the television and saw something that spoke to us and made us curious about skateboarding. Now, in this day and age, X-Games has become a household name synonymous with skateboarding and everything gnarly.

Who doesn’t associate X Games and skateboarding with the iconic 900 landed by Tony Hawk at the 1999 Summer X Games? (Which as you will learn in this article, was landed after the official buzzer).

Seeing the California skate park ramps and half pipes on T.V., with pro skaters adorned with stickers and the best skateboards, the X Games painted and still paints a clear picture of what professional skateboarding looks like to millions of young people across the world.

However, over the years what a youngster or curious adult might see when tuning into the X Games on ESPN has changed. While along the journey, amazing things have happened not just for the X Games but the sport of skateboarding.

At GOSKATE, we celebrate and explore skateboarding’s history, and we would be remiss to not tell the story of the X-Games and reveal some of its most interesting facts.

So if you ever wondered how the X Games came to be? Or who were some of the first skateboarders involved? Or maybe how much the X Games has changed when it comes to today’s contest format? This is the article for you.

We’re going to give you as many facts as possible on X Games skateboarding – everything from the trivial data based facts, to surprising humanizing facts you definitely have never heard before.

So without further ado, in this article we’ll be going over:

  • A brief History of X Games Skateboarding
  • 47 Facts about X Games Skateboarding

Need help understanding skateboarding terminology? We’ve curated the largest glossary for skateboarding terminology to get you skating in the right direction.

Want to learn how you or your loved one can compete for the X Games or even the Olympics? One thing that nearly all X Games and Olympic athletes have in common is they received skate lessons early in their career which they used to win skateboarding competitions.

A Brief History of the X Games

For the sake of this article, we’re going to be focusing mainly on the skateboarding side of X Games history. While skateboarding is not a part of the Winter X Games, luckily for us skateboarding has been part of the very fabric of the X games since the very beginning and arguably endures as its most iconic action sport in terms of history, facts and overall with everything the X Games means to the world.


How did the X Games come to be?

So how did the X Games come to be? We can all thank mid 90s executives at ESPN, who in 1993 propelled the idea of the X Games by wanting to tap into the market of extreme sports. They knew there were people already participating in extreme sports and ESPN wanted to turn them into a mainstream sporting event.

The very first X Games crowds drew some great crowds, and ESPN knew they had something on their hands they could grow. The general public were awestruck by these amazing athletes who were willing to risk their lives to win a gold medal. The athletes in return saw their sponsorships grow, deals with endorsements grow, and overall their branding and pocketbook grew with it. So while ESPN wanted to grow, the athletes also wanted to participate. This recipe is a great success that still endures to this day.

Many people will credit the X Games for making action sports video games possible, like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Dave Mirra’s Freestyle BMX Games. Some of Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skaters even feature the X Games in the form of skate competitions and gold medals.

Where was the very first X Games?

It might be to many people’s surprise, the first X Games was in Rhode Island in 1995, not California. However, two years later, the first Winter X Games would be held in Big Bear, California. Today, we see skateboarding competitions all over the World but generally still in areas with great summer and great winter weather for action sports.

The inaugural event was meant to target generation X, or the MTV Generation of kids born in the 80s. So while the X Games, hmmm – must stand for extreme games rights? Well, you’re only partially correct. The majority of athletes were also from generation X and the symbol of X generally in mathematics and western lore stands for the unknown. The X Games has always prided itself on skaters pushing the sport of skateboarding, conquering the unknown by landing tricks that have never been done before. Especially during those first few years, where skaters were landing tricks that have never been seen by the generally public on national television.

For example, Tony Hawk landed his infamous 900 at Summer X Games 1999 and Travis Pastrana landed the first ever double backflip on freestyle motocross. First time historical events also took place alongside skateboarding in the forms of producing, broadcasting, hosting and all of the ways in which skateboarding is documented on a live broadcast. Indeed, modern skateboarding coverage was helped shaped by the X Games, who shared popular terms like “face-melting” – “shred the gnar” and other terms like “grind” – “steeze” and “sketch” with the general public.

How X Games History changed skateboarding?


The X Games helped change the public image of skateboarding, making pro skaters more than just mohawk punk kids breaking glass and vandalizing property. It put for the first time in many parents’ minds a viable means of professionalism and livelihood to what it means to be a skateboarder. This arguably is the largest contribution the X Games has made over the years to thousands, if not millions of kids across the world. Getting the X Games on ESPN was huge, exposing millions to several sports, including skateboarding, on the same pedestal as sports like football, basketball, and baseball.

Currently, the Winter X Games are held in Aspen Colorado, and the Summer X Games are held in Southern California, mainly San Diego and Los Angeles. Shaun White, is the only action sport athlete to have won X Games medals in both Winter X Games and X Games for halfpipe snowboarding and vert skateboarding. Today, there are six categories of skateboarding in the X Games: Men’s Skateboard Vert, Men’s Skateboard Street, Men’s Skateboard Park, Women’s Skateboard Street, Women’s Skateboard Park, and Skateboarding Big Air. There is also generally a Best Trick competition in both Men and Women’s skateboarding Street contests.

47 Facts about X Games Skateboarding

  • In 1993, ESPN executives decided to attribute significant resources to the creation of an international gathering of action sports athletes.
  • In 1994, holding a press conference at Planet Hollywood in New York City, ESPN announced the first ever “Extreme Games” would be held in June of 1995.
  • The first X Games were held in Newport, Providence and Middletown Rhode Island in June of 1995.
  • Skateboarding was among the 27 events in 9 sports categories of the first X Games, alongside others like Bungy Jumping, Street Luge, Sport Climbing, Skysurfing, and BMX.
  • The first X Games was such a success, ESPN decided to throw it again the following year, forgoing the original plans of launching the X Games every 2 years.
  • In 1996, ESPN officially changed the name from Extreme Games to the well known X Games.
  • By 1996, roughly 200,000 spectators tuned into the X Games, (remember this is live television days).
  • Tony Hawk won his first gold medal in 1995 for skateboarding vert.
  • Chris Senn wins the gold medal in skateboard street over Tony Hawk who took silver.
  • The X in X Games doesn’t only stand for extreme but for the Generation X ABC wanted to target.
  • The X in X Games also stands for X Marks the spot, as in the discovery of the unknown. This is in reference to the millions of people who tuned into the X Games for the first time on television and discovered action sports.
  • The first Winter X Games was held in Big Bear, CA. in 1997.
  • The Summer X Games is generally always in Southern California in Los Angeles and San Diego.
  • By 1997, from June 20th – June 28th, roughly 221,00 fans attended the X Games in Oceanside San Diego.
  • 1997, X Games III in San Diego, debut Skateboard Vert Doubles, where Tony Hawk and Andy Macdonald teamed up to take home the gold medal.
  • From 1997 through 1999, Tony Hawk and Andy Macdonald won 3 consecutive gold medals in X Games Vert Doubles.
  • The X Games launches their X Games Xperience, a road show that travels to Disneyland in Paris, France.
  • In 1998, the first ever X Games qualifying event was held in China – leading to the Asian X Games where over 200 athletes from the Pacific Rim competed in Thailand for four sports in X Games San Diego.
  • In June of 1999, Tony Hawk landed the now infamous 900 on an X Games vert ramp, technically after the buzzer in San Francisco. Till this day, the 900 endures as the most iconic moment in X Games history.
  • In 2000, street legend and skate icon Eric Koston wins his first X Games gold medal in Men’s Street Skateboarding.
  • In 2000, Bucky Lasek scored a 98.50 in Skateboard Vert, the highest score in X Games history.
  • In 2001, Bob Burnquist landed a 98.00 for his X Games Skateboarding Vert run. However, this run is largely considered the best Vert Run in X Games history. Tony Hawk, who was narrative the run as a broadcaster, nearly lost his voice in cheering for Bob
  • In March of 2002, the first ever Latin X Games Qualifier was hosted in Rio De Janeiro Brazil, where more than 200 athletes competed in front of 37,500 spectators and an incredible 30 million households tuned in on television.
  • In 2002, the first X Games skate parks appeared in the US. Such places like Franklin Mills in Philadelphia, PA and Colorado Mills in Denver, CO., enjoy a permanent skatepark built by leading industry professionals.
  • In 2003, Ryan Sheckler became the youngest gold medalist in X Games history at the age of 13 in skateboard park.
  • In 2004, skateboarding’s big air made its debut and the legendary Danny Way took home the inaugural gold medal. Danny Way and Big Air remain iconic in X Games lore til this day.
  • In 2005, X Games 9 held its skateboarding event at Staples Center, with skaters like Eric Koston and Chad Muska making this event arguably the most iconic in X Games Street in skateboarding history.
  • On the eve of X Games 2005, Mimi Knoop led a women’s movement for equal pay in skateboarding competitions – founding the Women’s Skate Alliance with legends Elissa Steamer, Vanessa Torres and others. For context, the first place men’s vert prize was $50,000 with the women’s first place prize being only $2,000.
  • In 2006, Nyjah Huston became the youngest athlete to compete in the X Games at only 11 years old.
  • In 2007, Shaun White won the gold medal in Skateboard Vert, becoming the only X Games participant to win gold medals in both the winter and summer X Games – snowboarding and skateboarding.
  • In 2007 Jake Brown fell from 40+ feet in the air during the big air competition, knocking his shoes off and causing him to lay motionless for 8 minutes. This is considered the worst fall in X Games history. Jake sustained a fractured wrist, a bruised liver and lung, a ruptured spleen and a concussion. He was somehow able to walk off the ramp with help
  • Just two years later after his dramatic fall, Jake Brown returned to the big air competition and won a gold medal. Legend!
  • One of the most iconic skateboarders of our generation, Paul Rodriguez, won X Games gold for skateboard street in 2009, in Los Angeles.
  • In 2010, Ryan Sheckler won X Games gold for skateboard street with one of the most iconic runs in X Games history.
  • In 2011, a petition to “Stop Excluding Women from the X-Games” was started after X Games released their event list without any women’s competitions. Women throughout the years would also lead strikes to get more equal pay which were embarrassingly smaller compared to their male counterparts.
  • In 2011, Nyjah Huston wins his first X Games gold medal and begins the eclipse as a dominant skate athlete for decades to come.
  • In 2011, Shaun White won his second gold medal in X Games Vert Skateboarding, ending Pierre Luc Gagnon’s 3-year win streak.
  • In 2012, Jagger Eaton became the youngest athlete in X Games history.
  • In 2013, Bob Burnquist won his 3rd consecutive gold in Skateboard Big Air, earning his 23rd X Games medal. He would earn a record 25th medal in next year’s big air and vert.
  • In 2014, Tony Hawk’s son, Riley Hawk made his first X Games appearance.
  • In 2015, X Games began in X Games Real Street qualification videos. Where pro skaters are invited to film clips in the streets for fans to vote them into competition.
  • Mitchie Brusco landed the first ever 1080 in skateboard Big Air, earning him silver. He became the youngest skateboard vert medalist at 16.
  • In 2017, Bob Burnquist announced his retirement from the X Games, having competed every year since X Games started in 1995.
  • In 2018, Leticia Bufoni won first place for women’s street. She represents the birth of a women’s skate movement in competition skating that endures to this day.
  • In 2020, X Games was canceled due to Covid 19.
  • In 2021, the Summer X Games was held in a private facility, without an in-person audience due to the proximity to the Tokyo Olympic Games and Covid 19.
  • Paul Rodriguez won two gold medals 13 years apart from one another in 2004 and 2017.
  • Nyjah Huston has medalled in 10 of his last 12 X Games appearances.
  • Our very own, Zane Foley, covered the X Games in 2022.

There you have it folks, 47 facts about X Games history. Without a doubt the skateboarding world can expect a rich future of X Games skateboarding, with competitions like Street, Park, Big Air, Vert and Megaramp showing no signs of slowing down.

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Zane Foley

Zane Foley has been writing professionally since 2014, since obtaining his BA in Philosophy from the California State University, Fullerton. Zane is an avid skateboarder and Los Angeles native. Follow him on Instagram for links to his other published works. @zaneyorkfly