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2014 Van Doren Invitational Recap

An artistic perspective of the Van Doren Invitational Bowl.
An artistic perspective of the Van Doren Invitational Bowl.
Justin Kosman/Van Doren Invite

The Vans US Open of Surfing finished up this week in Huntington Beach. Along with the ASP tour surfing competition, the 2014 Van Doren Invitational BMX Bowl competition took place with first place going to Gary Young, followed by Chase Hawk in second and Jason Watts in third.

2014 Van Doren Invitational finalists (L-R) Chase Hawk, Gary Young, Jason Watts
Photo Courtesy of Brandon Means

Jason Watts of Brisbane, Australia earned third place thanks to three insane runs. Gigantic airs that flowed into tech lip tricks like a long pedal hang five. Returning to the podium again this year and fresh off his X Games gold, was Chase Hawk from Austin, Texas. His unmatched style and flow, coupled with huge airs and fast manuals, landed him in 2nd place.

Finally, leading the pack, Gary Young could easily be described as a rider's rider, and a win from him brings a smile to the face of BMX. The San Diego local missed last year's event due to an injury suffered a month after winning X Games gold in Barcelona. Healthy and back in top form, he put together 3 incredible runs, clicking turndowns and nose-bonking into flat tables during lines that were all his.

The rest of the field delivered in a big way. Huntington Beach local Kris Fox again rode faster than anyone, blasting huge airs all over the course for 6th place. 4th and 5th place went to two of last years finalists, Dan Foley and Sergio Layos.

Immediately after the finals, Tom Dugan blasted to the 13-foot mark to win high air and put an exclamation point on an incredible weekend of BMX riding from all the riders at the 2014 Van Doren Invitational.

With flat surf most of the week, many of the 100,000 spectators piled into the Van Doren Invitational BMX Bowl to witness some high-caliber BMX riders. And among them, a few Orange County locals.

I talked to Huntington Beach's own Dakota Roche after his run in the bowl. Here's a little of what Dak had to say...

Q: How great is it to come out here and ride in front of your home town crowd?

Dakota Roche: It's amazing. I live two blocks away so its nice. I can get out of bed, go to my breakfast spot and just come straight down here. Its probably the best way to ride a contest ever.

Q: How are you feeling physically right now?

DR: My legs are really tired from pumping the bowl but other than that I feel great.

Q: What do you think of the bowl?

DR: The bowl is amazing. Its fast and there's a lot of lines. I couldn't really ask for a better bowl to ride.

I kind of grew up riding more street courses, more urban riding like stairs and rails and stuff. But I always like riding bowls, so I'm just stoked to be able to ride this bowl and especially the fact that its in my home town makes it all the better.

Q: Are you surprised that this festival has gotten to be so big that it attracts many of the top riders from around the world?

DR: Yeah, it's crazy. I mean the US Open's been going on for so long. I've lived in Huntington my whole life and to see it evolve from just a surfing contest into more of a skateboarding and BMX event is really cool to see all of it.

Q: When you're here competing, do you feel that hometown energy – like this is your turf?

DR: Absolutely. Yeah, I totally feel like I'm in my element. It's awesome.

Q: What do you like better judging or riding?

DR: Riding. I was hurt for most of last year so I had to judge at last year's US Open. It's definitely better to be on my bike than it is to be up in a tower watching everybody kill it.

I also caught former El Dorado High School alum and pro-rider, Pat Casey as he was walking to the athlete's area above the bowl.

Q: What draws you back to the US Open year after year?

Pat Casey: Yeah definitely - it's Huntington! I used to live in Yorba Linda so I grew up over here in Orange County. It's just awesome having the crowd around here. This is a bowl contest and Vans is putting it on. They're one of my sponsors so I definitely come down and show some love.

Q: What places did you ride when you were a kid?

PC: Just around Yorba Linda. Random places, just all over.

Q: Where can we see you competing next?

PC: I'm going to Pennsylvania for Mongoose Jam and then right after that I'll go straight to Dew Tour. So, yeah its a busy two weeks for me.

For all your summer sports updates, follow me on Twitter @OCHSSports!

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