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Wantagh teen competing at X Games in 'Red Bull Phenom' contest
After riding for six years at Huntington Skatepark, 16-year-old Grant Germain’s unwavering effort to perfect his BMX street-style riding is finally paying off.
The Wantagh High School rising junior is a finalist in the “Red Bull Phenom,” a video submission contest that kicked off in April to find an upcoming extreme sports athlete. Finalists will compete against each other at the X Games in Los Angeles today for the prize of Red Bull producing their professional video profile.
“The adrenaline is what keeps me going back to it,” said Germain, of Wantagh. “It’s the greatest feeling to land a trick. And to be a finalist in this contest is exciting. I can’t wait.”
Germain had already booked a one-way flight on June 25 to spend the summer in California practicing at local parks in case he became a finalist in the competition.
“I had no intention of winning, but when I did I got the chills,” said Germain, who was notified he was a finalist about two weeks ago. “I didn’t expect it at all, but I’m so happy.”
Germain will compete in the BMX Street competition in front of 75,000 spectators. The competition asked athletes to submit a 60-second video of themselves pulling off their best moves in their chosen discipline — skate street, BMX street and mountain bike slopestyle. Six finalists were chosen in each discipline.
Germain credits his longtime friend and former pro rider Doug Connolly as one of the main reasons he began riding.
“He has been in love with BMX riding since he saw me do tricks for the first time,” said Connolly, 27, of Seaford, who is now attending the NYPD Police Academy. “Every weekend, we’d practice tricks at the Huntington Skatepark 8-10 hours a day. He’s always been a dedicated rider.”
Connolly is confident his friend will win the competition, which he said is bound to take him to the next level and give him the exposure he deserves.
“He’s one of the cleanest upcoming riders for his age,” he said. “It’s what he does. It's his passion and it’s always been his dream to be sponsored and now he’s living his dream.”
Mike Escamilla, who went pro in BMX street riding in 1995, hosts Fuel TV’s “Strangers in Danger” and is on TLC’s “LA Ink” cast, received 105 BMX video submissions from around the world to judge.
“I judged the videos on the diversity of tricks that allowed me to see what they were capable of,” said Escamilla, 35, of Burbank, Calif. “Grant filmed in different spots across Long Island and had a lot of different tricks and really hard combos. He looked good.”
Escamilla advised finalists to stop mimicking what they see professional BMXers do.
“You need to have consistency, ride the course the best and go out of your comfort zone and do something different,” Escamilla said. “Ride this run the way you want to ride it. Be creative, have fun and take the sport where they want it to be not where it is.”
Escamilla said he got involved in the Red Bull Phenom competition because he strongly believes in the opportunity and exposure it will give to these young athletes.
“One thing our sport is missing is amateaur contests and ways for kids to get recognized,” he said. “It levels the playing field for kids who don't have the opportunity to get in front of the right people. You win this contest and no one can argue that you're not a force to be reckoned with.”