Make no mistake, the stunts and tricks one sees performed during Nitro Circus Live are dangerous.
The extreme sports tour, which stops Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Save Mart Center, riffs on X Games-style BMX, skateboard and motocross tricks, turning them into mega spectacles such as the Nitro Bomb, which involves getting as many bikes in the air as possible with some pyrotechnics are thrown in for good measure.
“It’s two hours of action-packed, adrenaline-filled craziness,” says Bruce Cook, an acclaimed freestyle motocross (FMX) athlete and Nitro Circus performer. “If the crowd gets louder, we go bigger.”
Nitro Circus started as a DVD series, filmed in a garage. It spawned the popular MTV show, a 3-D film and a live arena show.
Cook knows the danger better than most. It was during a Nitro Circus show last year that he under-rotated on a double front flip, crashed hard on the landing and broke his T-11 vertebrae. He was paralyzed from the waist down.
The fact that Cook is riding again – and performing on the North American stretch of the tour – is proof of his passion for his work and the “never say can’t” attitude that defines the Nitro Circus.
“A lot of people don’t understand why I’d want to get back on something that almost took my life,” Cook says. “The second I got back on the bike and took off, it felt right and normal.”
Just 10 months after his accident, he was back on a dirt bike, popping wheelies on his first ride. During a tour stop last month, he successfully pulled off a back flip.
It was a first for any paraplegic.
Preparing for the trick took a month of training with action sports star (and Nitro Circus founder) Travis Pastrana at his “Pastranaland” complex in Maryland. Cook practiced by doing back flips into a foam pit.
I’ve been thinking about it almost every day since the accident.
Bruce Cook, Nitro Circus performer
Doing the trick is different, of course.
Cook is strapped to the bike, so he can’t bail out if something goes wrong. He doesn’t have the benefit of using his leg strength to help the bike turn over, either. Instead, the ramp is steeper and there’s a smaller gap to jump. He lets the power and torque of the bike do most of the work.
The danger is still there, and the knowledge of what could happen is always lurking in the back of his mind, Cook says. He overcomes it with the sounds of the crowd and his confidence and commitment to what he’s doing.
“I know I can do it every time,” he says.
Nitro Circus Live
- 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8
- Save Mart Center
- Tickets: $42-$92
- 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com