Baker was joined on the podium by 28-year-old Monster Energy pro Daniel Sandoval from Corona, California, in second place. On the strength of overall season points, Sandoval finished in third place in the 2023 Monster Energy BMX Triple Challenge rankings.
Presented by Monster Energy, the BMX Triple Challenge is respected as the most progressive competition on the BMX dirt riding circuit. Now in its seventh year, the open-invite event continues to attract the elite of the sport as well as up-and-comers looking to make a name for themselves.
As in previous years, the 2023 BMX Triple Challenge took place during select Monster Energy Supercross events. After starting out in Anaheim, California, in late January, the tour proceeded to Glendale, Arizona, in early April. Over 50 of the world’s best freestyle, BMX riders competed for wins in BMX Dirt and Best Trick this year, as well as the overall season title.
For the final stop in Nashville, the anticipation was palpable outside Nissan Stadium. Riders also had to deal with inclement weather. A last-second storm on the night before the qualifying event on Friday soaked the freshly finished jumps. Despite the hard work of the Dirt Sculpt crew, the jumps were running slower than expected, and some heavy winds caused concerns among competing riders. The univocal decision: Postpone qualifying, drop the LCQ/semi-finals round of competition, trim off a foot or two of the landing of the second set, and cram the entire BMX Triple Challenge into just five hours before the gate dropped at the daytime SX stop.
The standard BMX Triple competition format continued with three runs – best run counts – with the top eight moving onto the BMX Main Event. Sandoval took the top spot in qualifying with a barrage of combos that only he can do: 360 barspin-downside tailwhip-barspin on the first set, a 360 tailwhip-to-tailwhip back, and a 360 barspin-barspin-downside tailwhip. Joining him in the finals were Monster’s own Baker, Mike Varga, and the previous stop’s winner, Bryce Tryon.
Qualifying into finals in the fifth spot, Brady dropped in somewhat early into the final round. He wasted absolutely zero time and sent his heaviest run on the first go: backflip triple tailwhip, 360 triple barspin, and a cashroll tailwhip. Having set the bar, it was the rest of the field’s job to catch up – but Baker’s score remained untouchable.
Speaking on his first win at a Triple Challenge event, Baker said: “I’ve been putting in the work. I’ve been riding so much, and I’ve wanted to get to this level at these events for a while. I made a goal to get on the podium this year, and I missed out at the first two stops because I felt like I kept missing little tricks here and there. And it just all came together here. I’m speechless!”
Supported by the Monster Army athlete development program, Baker is currently honing his trick skills at Woodward West training facility in California. In late 2022, he turned heads with the “Power Hour” video edit presented by Monster Energy.
Second place in Nashville went to Sandoval. With the overall title on the line and a bit of resentment for the judging at the last stop, the 2022 overall Triple Challenge winner dropped in with a vengeance. All the familiar combos from qualifying, but his first two runs ended with an absolutely insane dipped 360 superman seat grab. In his third run, he added yet another tailwhip over the second set for a 360 double tailwhip-to-tailwhip back and sent a 720 double barspin over the last set.
Unfortunately, Sandoval could not get the landing and had to settle for second place in the event and third place overall for the year.
Also riding strong in the final, Tryon bobbled his first two runs but put down a solid run that had a double flip on the massive first set and a front flip double barspin for fifth place. Varga came into the event beat up but managed seventh place, with the highlight being a slightly corked-out double flip on the last set.