Should Ryan Williams Be in X Games?

Photo courtesy of Hyper Bicycles

We’ve seen R Willy do a bunch of circus tricks on a big resi ramp. Why on Earth should that entitle him to an X Games invite?

Just a disclaimer, I don’t know Ryan Williams. I’ve met him very briefly on a few occasions and we share a handful of friends, but my opinions here are in no way influenced by a personal relationship.

Love him or hate him, the scooter / BMX hybrid brings something different to the table. His arsenal of difficult and unusual tricks have won him two (the only two, in fact) victories in Best Tricks at Nitro World Games - which is judged by respected BMX veterans - and, apparently, even scored him a million dollar contract with Nitro Circus. Maybe you’re a fan of his riding or maybe it’s like a car crash - either way, you can’t look away. 


Ryan has been quite vocal in his disappointment at not receiving an X Games Big Air invitation. It seems that he feels his air-awareness on big jumps and the previously mentioned successes should have guaranteed him a spot in the sport’s premier event. But, should it? We’ve never seen him ride a big quarter. The Nitro ramp is a resi. There are limited spots in X Games. It just wouldn’t make sense to invite him, right?


Story of my life...???? #XGames

A post shared by Ryan Williams (@rwillyofficial) on


In my humble opinion, wrong. Very wrong. Invite him. Give him his shot. Here’s why - 

- For starters, it’s clear that Ryan is incredibility talented on his bike. It’s also clear that he genuinely wants to be a part of the X Games. Put those together and I’d be shocked to see anything less than a 100% balls-out effort that is going to result in some absolutely amazing riding or some sort of gnarly crash - you know, the stuff that keeps the general public watching… 

- If you look into Ryan’s riding, whether it’s on social media or other events he’s been a part of (Barcelona Extreme 2016 comes to mind), the guy can ride quarterpipes. Yeah, the giant beast in Big Air is something else, but it’s crazy to treat the situation as if he can only ride a straight jump (or a resi, at that). 

- The Mega Ramp takeoff is quite a bit mellower than those at Nitro World Games, but he’s already proven he can ride it via a rebel run at X Games Austin in 2015. Even if he crashed and burned on the quarter, which I find unlikely, what would go down on the jump would still make for some damn good television.


- Ryan has a massive social media following. Yeah, that SHOULDN’T matter, but let’s be honest here. It’s 2017. It does matter. Ryan has 845k followers on Instagram. That’s nearly double what Harry Main has racked up and, to the best of my knowledge, he’s the closest in BMX to Ryan’s massive number. More eyeballs on X Games, more eyeballs on BMX, more eyeballs on all of the other riders. This is a good thing. 

- And, to cap it all off, Ryan recently spent some time at Woodward East and rode their biggest quarters. The ramps aren’t as big as what he’d be facing in X Games and he didn’t exactly throw down any big tricks (on wood, at least), but this goes on to prove he’s more than capable. Who wouldn’t want to see a massive front flair on the Mega Ramp?


It’s exciting when a talented rider is passionate about something and wants to do big things. It's unfortunate when there isn't a qualifier or any other set path to bring these dreams to life. When I get my ballot to nominate riders for next year’s X Games, you can bet that Ryan Williams will be high on my list.

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  • Leigh Ramsdell

    9/3/2017 3:44 PM

    A relatively unknown rider (Kurtis Downs) made it in the X-games and even got on the podium. People knew he could do amazing things on the jump but he submitted a video that showed him riding the big quarter pipe really good and that solidified him in the X-games. Ryan is one of the best on the big jump but it's called 'Big Air' for a reason so he should make a video of him riding the big quarter and show that he belongs. He just needs to prove he can blast that quarter.

  • julien

    9/2/2017 2:46 AM

    no way the guy never ever compete any bmx contest in his life no fise not even asa triple crown NOTHING we see him only ride resi 90% of the time and you actually think he deserv to ride next to legends like Morgan Wade , James foster or Zack warden .... but im pretty sure he's going to get his invit next year because of his numbers of follwers on insta and some help from pastrana .......

  • possenier

    9/2/2017 8:06 AM

    All 3 riders you mentions are upset he was not in it.
    But Kyle forgot the reason why he was not there, hé is not american. X games is expn and american and they want americans to win. They hate Vert for that reason. Check how many times they anounce Simon or Jamie as 'american'
    If americans would have Keep winning flatland then they would still have flatland in the x-games.
    Mark webb is also waiting for a invite...

  • julien

    9/2/2017 9:27 AM

    lol lololol what about daniel dhers and his 5 gold medals and peraza this year ? Mark webb and harry main got both invited to the xgames in the past they couldn't even make it to the final because they rode the bowl like a mini ramp contest ..... and flat is no longer in xgames because it was not entertaining enough to watch which is true .... you'r bmx history is not on point

  • kylecarlson

    9/2/2017 1:06 PM

    Here's a list of riders in the 2017 X Games who aren't from America (this is off the top of my head, so I'll probably forget a few) -

    Vince Byron
    Jamie Bestwick
    Simon Tabron
    Coco Zurita
    Logan Martin
    Kyle Baldock
    Daniel Dhers
    Leandro Moreira
    Simone Barraco
    Bruno Hoffmann
    Dan Lacey
    Dawid Godziek (Did not compete due to injury, but was invited)
    Andy Buckworth
    Drew Bezanson

    Yeah.... I don't think that has a whole lot to do with Ryan Williams not being invited.

  • possenier

    9/2/2017 3:34 PM

    Put this next to the list of american riders. Then consider that americans are 2% of the world population. But don't take my word for it, just ask the mat hoffmans and Paul de jongs and others who choose the riders and they will Tell you off the record there are quota they have to use from espn. They will also Tell you they hate that.
    But this is with a lot of 'american' tv sports a problem. How many country's play in the world series baseball?
    How many

  • kylecarlson

    9/3/2017 3:30 PM

    Regardless of the population percentage the United States of America holds, when we're talking top BMX riders, it's a lot higher than 2%. It's probably a lot closer to 50%. As previously mentioned, there is a solid international presence at X Games. An "off the record" comment is just that - off the record. Also, if these "quotas" exist, I'd imagine they'd be advertiser / sponsorship-based and not nationality-based.

    Two countries can possibly play in the World Series (USA and Canada). This has literally absolutely nothing to do with BMX or a private contest owned by ESPN. I agree that referring to something as a "World Championship" (like The World Series) but not giving opportunities to athletes from everywhere a chance is a flawed system, but X Games isn't a part of this.

  • possenier

    9/3/2017 11:23 PM

    I can't reply on your statement below Kyle, so i'll put it here.
    Let me try to give some background info.
    I've started riding in 1985 so i've been in this some time. I've never been at a level good enough to make it, but i've road contests all over the world. I love the x-games and mainly because they and the x-trials where the only contests that espn sold to euro sport and other international broadcasters and this for lot's of country's where the only time in a year People all over the world could see BMX on tv. I love them for that since they are in my opinion still the number 1 reason People outside the usa pick up a bmx and start to ride.
    I've also seen the craziest thing i've seen live in bmx thanks to the x-games when i was working for bmxtrix at the x-games in Philadelphia and i got a friends a family pass from koji and Saw mat's No Handed 900 from a few meters away.
    I now that this x-games they hated the fact (and jury) that for flatland only 3 americans made the finale and non made podium.
    And i totally understand why. If your sponsor is american Navy where the image is 'strong americans' going the extra Mile than that doesn't work with not even getting on the podium.
    Where contest like fise are about Selling contests to Big city's for lot's of money, the x-games are about Selling advertising. And that's ok with me because it's there thing.
    But because so many riders grew up with the x-games they see it as 'if i can win that, i'm the best of the world' and then it's not fun when these riders are not even allowed to try ride it.
    Everyone who ever Saw r Willy on a bmx knows he should be in there. If you ever seen him ride Vert you know how good he already is on quarters. i think he could ride top 10 in any Vert comp on the world. His air awareness on Big Jumps is insane, and the best of any bmx rider. It doesn't matter if it's on resi. If your rubber isn't pointing down you don't pull it.
    So does he 'needs to be in there? Offcourse he does. Hé needed the last 2 as Well.
    Would he have been in it if he was american? I'm sorry for those who don't like this but i'm positief he would have been Selected.
    But i'm glad with this topic, cause i now hope he can complete and win next time.

  • TomMorrisBMX

    9/1/2017 5:39 PM

    Heck Yeah Kyle!

    Thanks for the insightful piece.

    For sure Ryan should get an invite for X-Games big air. I think you already outlined all the best reasons, but I'd echo all of it. Ryan seems to always go 100% so I imagine he would do the same at X-Games since he has been chasing an invite for so long.

    It's clear he is going to throw something crazy on the jump. If he gets an invite, I would bet he finds his way to as many big quarters as possible and bring something huge to the jump.

    I hope he gets an invite. I'd love to see him put it all on the line!