At the beginning of this year, New Richmond native Colton Walker took some time off from BMX to focus on himself.
When he started his BMX career, he focused on having fun every time he went down the ramp and competed on the course. That enjoyment faded to start the 2019 year and it affected his mindset at every competition.
After a few months, he found that love again and it showed in his combinations on the BMX Dirt event. He's reached higher heights and has developed more tricks. Walker does all of this with a smile on his face.
"I loved it because I could challenge myself," Walker said. "It was really rewarding and I think that's one of the reasons I loved it so much."
Walker grew up in the town of New Richmond, Wis., and fell in love with action sports early in his life. He would always follow in his older step-brother's footsteps and that led to Moto X, then skateboarding and, finally, BMX.
He started with Moto X, but once he crashed a couple of times he was done with that sport and switched his attention skateboarding. That was Walker's focus until his family went on their annual camping trip to Jellystone Park in Warren, Wis.
At the campground, there was a skate park and the two bothers would skateboard all day. One year, Walker's father told him to bring his bike up.
Walker brought it up and used it so much that he broke the bike. His dad went up the road and bought Walker a nicer BMX bike. That's when he started falling in love with the sport.
"It just started from there," Walker said. "I mean, I loved that I could pedal and go faster and got more speed. Then, tricks just starting coming and I started watching more videos. My dad and I would watch more videos and the X Games with guys like Scotty Cranmer and all the guys here."
Those videos led to Walker creating some of his own tricks, which only intensified his passion for BMX because the tricks were personal.
When Walker developed his BMX skills, and felt confident about his tricks, he started competing in different events throughout the world. His dream was to make it to the X Games, but he knew he had to start smaller and grow.
Luckily, the call came sooner than later for Walker.
"I was in France at a different contest and I opened up my email and I had an invite to dirt," Walker said. "And I was like 'no way' because that was a dream of mine, just to be able to go to X Games. The first year winning, obviously winning was insane. It was a dream come true to be here."
After he was invited to the X Games, he continued to push himself to stay in the X Games for the future. This year was his third, and he's loved coming back home every time.
Walker's family can't always travel to different competitions throughout the world, so he's always excited to come back to Minneapolis for the X Games . It's just a 45-minute drive to U.S. Bank Stadium, and he can sleep in his own bed for the weekend.
He misses his family when he's on the road in different parts of the world, but Walker said the distance makes these weekends more special because everyone can be together.
Not only does his family get to see him for the weekend, local residents in Minnesota and Wisconsin can cheer him on as well. There's only a handful of local athletes at the X Games, so he feels pretty special to be in the handful of people.
"The main thing was that I knew my family could come," Walker said. "They're able to watch me on TV, but it's way different in person. They get to experience it with me, which is really cool."
Unfortunately, Walker's weekend ended early as he didn't make the cut in the elimination round for BMX Dirt on Thursday, August 1. He finished in eighth place with a score of 85.66, which was three spots away from reaching the finals on Saturday. Walker needed another two points to reach that fifth-place spot.
Even though he didn't reach the finals, Walker loves being in Minneapolis and has looked forward to this competition each year. His most memorable moment came in Minneapolis at the 2017 X Games.
Walker came into the 2017 X Games as a rookie and reached the finals, which was already impressive. He ended the finals on top with a gold medal, which only three percent win their rookie year.
These types of moments aren't possible without the support from his family, friends and community. The New Richmond community has always been behind Walker with his passion in BMX, and that support is what drives Walker to work hard each and every day to perfect his routines and tricks.
"I think it's cool because New Richmond is such a small town," Walker said. "And to see where you can go or what you can become from being there and to show younger kids and show other people anything is possible.
"I mean New Richmond is not a big place, and like no one knows about it, but I was still able to make my dreams come true by working hard and working towards it."
Walker wants to continue doing the X Games as long as he continues to love the sport and has fun with his runs. He doesn't see that fun and passion ending anytime soon.
The tricks he has in his pocket are only getting bigger and bigger, and his focus to earn another gold medal is getting sharper and sharper. He's excited to have the opportunity to be in the X Games, and he can't wait to see the future of this sport and the X Games in the future.
"There is literally nothing like it," Walker said. "I've never experienced any other thing in my life like this with the crowd and being here with my friends. This is what we love, and we love action sports."