Going into the last round of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour in Rome, Nate Adams trailed Norway's Andre Villa by only five points for the overall tour championship. He knew the title was within reach, but with Villa in the midst of a breakout season and riding consistently better all year than he ever has, it was never going to be easy.
Turns out, it wasn't. Both Villa and Adams made it to the Semifinal round, and both lost -- Villa to Adam Jones and Adams to eventual winner Dany Torres. With the top two riders on tour finishing with equal places, the winner was determined based on qualifying results for the Rome event. Nate Adams, the tour's defending champion, who hadn't won an individual event all year, finished first in qualifying. Game, set, match. Meet your two-time Red Bull X-Fighters Champion
How are you feeling after the win?
I'm doing good! I'm at home in Phoenix and I just got done doing some boxing at the gym with my brother. Now that my competition year is over and I'm heading to Australia in a couple days for three weeks, I just came to visit my family before I leave again.
I kind of feel like that's an accomplishment -- to not win an event, miss one of the events of the series, and still win the championship.
-- Nate Adams
What does it mean to you to win your second-consecutive Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour title and how does this rank on your laundry list of accomplishments?
Man, I have to say ... it's huge. At the beginning of the year I was trying to keep the repeat out of my mind. I just wanted to go to each event and do good and I can't believe I never won an event this year and still won the title. It's kind of a bummer, but on the other hand I kind of feel like that's an accomplishment -- to not win an event, miss one of the events of the series, and still win the championship.
So I'm just pumped I was consistent all year, and healthy and ... I'd say winning this second championship is up there with X Games, just on the accomplishment meter. It was a lot of hard work this year and especially with everything I have going on with Deft Family and all that. I feel the pressure, being the front man of Deft, I want to still win. I'm so relieved it's over and everything turned out good. I can't believe I repeated. I'm so pumped right now.
Do you feel that the Red Bull X-Fighters events give you more exposure than X Games, simply for the fact that you're competing all over the world and not just Los Angeles?
Yeah, totally. X Games is obviously big in our country, and Australia, Mexico, Europe -- they all pay attention to X Games everywhere around the world pretty much. But the X-Fighters series is like the NASCAR series in Europe, and it has a huge following. X Games is mostly American -- most my sponsors care more about X Games, but X-Fighters definitely gets you more exposure on the other side of the Atlantic and I think sponsors are starting to realize now that it matters more than just in America.
So, last year you won the London and Texas rounds and you ended up winning the overall tour title. This year you didn't win a single round, but you won the title again. Was that bittersweet for you?
It was a little bit bittersweet when I lost to Dany [Torres] in the semifinals in Rome, because it was like my last chance. It was the last contest of the series and I really wanted to win and go out on top, but I got over it and quite my snifflin' in about 20 minutes [laughs]. It's kind of like an accomplishment, you know? That's kind of what I want to be -- I want to have longevity for the rest of my career and just be consistent. I don't have to win them all, but I want to win some. But I was never out of the top three, so I accomplished my goal going into X-Fighters because I knew if I wanted to win I needed to stay in the top three. God answered my prayers, but I didn't win any, so it was a little bit of a slap [laughs].
I just had a rush of emotions -- thinking back on the whole year and how it all played out. A few years ago I definitely would've thought it was lame if somebody cried, but now I must be getting older because I appreciate it more.
-- Nate Adams
In the semifinals, as soon as it was announced that Andre Villa got knocked out by Adam Jones, you began to tear up. Was it at that moment you realized you had the title sewn up? Can you explain what emotions you were experiencing and what exactly was going through your head?
Yeah, it's actually pretty cool how it happened. This real cool dude named Max that's part of Red Bull's filming crew came up to me and yelled, "You won! I just did the math and you won!" So right then it hit me and I just had a rush of emotions -- thinking back on the whole year and how it all played out. A few years ago I definitely would've thought it was lame if somebody cried, but now I must be getting older because I appreciate it more and I realize that it might not ever happen again in my entire life. I'm standing up there getting ready to drop in on my bike in front of 30,000 people on live TV and do this run -- and I'm on top of my game, I'm 26-years-old, I'm in my prime physically and mentally -- and I was just like ... I don't know, I got overwhelmed and I was just like, "This is cool man. I'm having so much fun with my life right now, I'm so pumped with life," so it just hit me all at once.
That's cool that you realize hat, because a lot of riders get lost in the moment and don't see the big picture -- they just take everything for granted. Why do you think you're so levelheaded like that?
I think I've just been in it a while. This is the only job I've ever had and I've been in the sport for 11 years now and I've just seen a lot of people come and go. Maybe it's just a little bit of ignorance on their part. They come up, make a little bit of money, spend it all, get hurt and then they're gone -- they didn't have anything to fall back on. I just feel blessed to, first of all, even have a job because right now it's crazy over here, but I'm still able to do what I love. And just the friends I meet -- like me and Villa have become good friends over the past few years, and just all the X-Fighters riders ... it's just so cool traveling the world with a group of your buddies, getting wild on dirt bikes, and going to an after party on Saturday night, and just seeing parts of the world you never would've seen. I know I'm going to look back in 10 years and say, "Damn, I should've had more fun [laughs]!" But there's just no way I could have more fun than I'm having right now -- I just want to soak it up, so that's why I teared up. I can't believe it, you know?
Little is known about the financial perks that come from winning and X-Fighters title because unlike most high-profile contests, Red Bull doesn't announce the purse; can you shed some light on how this win has affected your bank account?
[laughs] Yeah, it's huge for Deft Family. Deft is going to place a huge order now! I can tell you that our new 2011 glove line order just got placed [laughs]. No, but I don't know what the exact number is -- I'd have to call my management, but I'd say it's upwards of 20,000 Euros from Red Bull X-Fighters, and all my sponsors like Target, Monster, One Industries, Dragon, DC Shoes pay bonuses. So I have to say, I've got a smile on my face -- you just reminded me of that smile Leyba. I'm not exactly sure what it'll be, but it'll make living a little easier for the next year or so [laughs].