FMX pioneer Mike Cinqmars passes

Mike sits down for an ESPN interview in 1999. motoworld.com

Freestyle motocross pioneer Mike Cinqmars passed away today at 2:08 a.m., according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department. His cause of death is still unconfirmed, and an autopsy is scheduled for sometime next week. He was 31.

Mike "Cinq" Cinqmars was one of the originators of freestyle motocross. At the first Freestyle event at the 1999 X Games, Cinqmars grabbed the silver medal, finishing just below Travis Pastrana and beating out the Metal Mulisha's Brian Deegan. But it wasn't until Cinqmars started filming with MTV for "Senseless Acts of Video," jumping over his two-story house in Apple Valley, Calif., that the mainstream really took notice.

In a 1999 interview with ESPN.com (then EXPN.com), Mike talked about the start of his career. "I pulled the house jump off perfectly, then I loaded my bike up and headed up to [San Francisco and] got second at the X Games," he said. "I got the silver medal, and then from there the ball just kept rolling."

After the house jump, Cinqmars went on to perform numerous jumps for MTV's cameras, including a spring break jump in Cancun, Mexico, where he launched over 100 feet off a stationary dock onto a makeshift sand landing.

Being the freerider that he was, Cinqmars would rather ride for fun and film than compete.

"Films sit in people's homes forever, and people watch them all the time," he said in 1999. "Contests are cool, but I'd rather go shoot a vid. In contests, sometimes you do well, sometimes you don't. [Your talent] doesn't always show. And there's a lot of pressure, and I'm kind of over that. I want to just go ride and have fun."

It was filming that ultimately took Cinqmars out of the freestyle motocross limelight for good. While wrapping up his own film, "35/01 My Trip," he suffered a crash that broke his back and ended his career.

Said Cinqmars after the crash: "I was 35 feet up in the air coming down; I tossed the bike away and splatted on the back of the landing and snapped my back. I rolled down the hill but when I was lying there I could feel that my back popped out because I didn't lose consciousness. The first thing I did was move my toes. I knew I wasn't paralyzed, and that was a great feeling."

Cinqmars experienced many ups and downs throughout his career, but he made it clear in interviews that he had reached his goals and was happy with his accomplishments.

"Once I started making money, my biggest goal was to have a nice house that I could call my own and have all nice stuff in it, and to have a car and a truck, bikes and all that. I've got all that. I've got land, and it's good to be able to have all that. It was a big goal of mine and I've done it."