When the Las Vegas Throwdown shreds its way into the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center on November 12, the action sports showcase and music festival will bring with it 40 tons of ice, 20 live bands and DJs, and some of the world’s finest snowboarders and BMX riders. Here are three athletes to watch as they compete for neon glory.
Hometown: Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Hailing from a state nicknamed Minnesnowta, it’s only right that 26-year-old Ryan Paul rips it up on the powder. The reigning champ—who nabbed first place in January in the Throwdown’s previous incarnation, Park Jam—Paul also snagged a silver medal in the 2012 Winter X Games and a first-place win at the 2011 Hot Dawgz & Handrails competition. While he’s praised for his skills on the halfpipe, he’s also known for his street antics. “I like to snowboard on obscure things that I find out there in cities,” he says. That includes everything from trash cans to dinosaur playground rockers. So what does he have planned for Las Vegas? “Just expect to see someone out there having fun and enjoying himself,” he says.
Hometown: Lake Haven,
New South Wales, Australia
Andy Buckworth is living the dream. After competing at a young age, the Aussie moved to the U.S. to do what he loves. He soon joined motocross legend Travis Pastrana’s international Nitro Circus tour to compete against—and beat—his childhood heroes. “Growing up, especially on the other side of the world … it was all about Ryan Nyquist and Dave Mirra,” he says. “If you finish second behind Ryan Nyquist, that’s nothing to be ashamed about. But to be out there on the podium with him next to you, that’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget.” The self-proclaimed “big-trick guy” is always pushing his and the sport’s limits, and he’s got no plans to stop anytime soon. “People think you’re crazy because there are so many injuries that are involved, but really, it’s just passion—passion for the sport, passion for excitement, passion for the adrenaline,” he says.
Hometown: Corona, California
Sandoval might be young, but he has the battle scars of a seasoned veteran. “This is the worst year I’ve had,” he says. The athlete had a bad fall during a contest in France earlier this year, fracturing two ribs and dislocating his shoulder. But as soon as he recovered, he got back on his wheels. “When I’m injured, all I’m thinking about is riding my bike. It’s just a part of me now,” he says. It comes with the territory, especially when you’re doing what others deem impossible. Sandoval was the first person to land a BMX 720 tailwhip to barspin and a BMX 720 double tailwhip, so expect to ooh and ahh when he’s up. He isn’t coming just to show off, though—he’s in it to win it. “I know what I have to do when
I have to do it.”
Las Vegas Throwdown
Nov. 12, noon-8 p.m., $8, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, DLVEC.com