You've Come a Long Way, Ryan Williams
"Thanks for the invite, X Games... Not really."

- Ryan Williams / March 2016

"Gold never tasted so good!"

- Ryan Williams / October 2018


In 2015, he snuck on the course in hopes of getting noticed. In 2018, he won gold. You've come a long way, Ryan Williams!

Ryan's long, complicated, and highly-publicized quest to win a gold medal at X Games culminated this past weekend when he took the top spot at the first-ever X Games in his home country of Australia. 

X Games: Sydney saw three BMX riders take home their first golds, but none had as complicated of a journey getting there as Williams. 

Ryan was never shy about his desire to compete in X Games: Big Air and his dream of taking the win, but X Games was hesitant of offering him the highly-coveted invitation. 

In 2015 - and this certainly could have been viewed as a negative - Ryan snuck on the ramp and threw down a wild corked spin over the jump. Illegally. 

He didn't hit the quarterpipe. Though nothing was ever said "on the record" from X Games, the understanding was that Ryan needed to prove to the world that he can ride a quarterpipe - specifically, a massive one - in order to obtain an invitation. 

We started covering Williams' quest in September of 2017. I was a firm believer that he deserved a chance based on what he had shown - he won both "BMX Best Tricks" contests at the first two Nitro World Games, among other highlights - but opinions throughout the BMX world were pretty split. Many agreed with me, many thought they needed to see more from him, and a salty few didn't want to see him get his chance at all. Some Big Air regulars welcomed him with open arms, while others felt he underestimated the risk of riding the ramp and needed to "respect" it more.

As time went on, the only thing that really seemed to change was Ryan's attitude. While he once seemed bitter at his lack of an invitation, he grew to understand X Games' assumed position on the matter. In March of this year, Ryan told Vital BMX, "The biggest problem I had was thinking that they could just add me into the event. The viewpoint change came because I realized that, in order for me to get in, I would be taking some else’s place. It wouldn’t be fair for that person if someone that didn’t have any footage riding the quarter got selected over them."

Ryan put in the time, rode some big quarters, released the footage, and in May of 2018, he received an X Games invitation. Some were stoked and some were disappointed, but everyone was going to watch. 

X Games: Minneapolis happened. Ryan competed. He failed to complete a full run.


That sounds pretty rough, but I saw it as a huge victory. Ryan showed up. He put it all on the line. He didn't half-ass anything. He crashed blasting front flairs on the giant quarter - and getting damn close to pulling them. While this wasn't his night, he proved that he deserved to be there.

Traditionally, Ryan would have to wait an entire year to get another shot. But, in 2018, X Games brought the big ramp - and the best riders - to Sydney, Australia for the first event of its kind. If Ryan was able to clean things up, he could fast track his path to redemption. He did just that.

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Apparently a conversation with vert legend Jamie Bestwick was just what the doctor ordered. Ryan was inches away from pulling the front flair in Minneapolis. Jamie was able to pinpoint what went wrong, fed that information to Ryan, and the problem was solved.

Ryan stuck a perfect front bikeflip over the jump and an 11'3" front flair on the quarter. This topped James Foster's best run - a backflip triple tailwhip over the jump and a quad downside tailwhip on the quarter - by 1.67 points. 

Ryan Williams made it happen. He worked hard. He kept his eye on the prize. He bounced back from defeat. He stayed positive. He prevailed. 

While no one can pinpoint what's next for the 24-year-old badass, one thing is for sure - in a short time, he's come a long way. 

Oh, and apparently he can ride more than just a resi!


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