Benalla’s Robbie Adelberg with his first Winter X Games gold medal — for the best snow bike trick on Monday afernoon our time.
Benalla’s Rob Adelberg has not just won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter X Games — he has done something no-one will be able to match.
His victory in the snow bike best trick at Aspen, Colorado on Monday afternoon (Benalla time) was the first of the event’s history — he will always stand alone in that category.
But none of that was going through the 29-year-old’s mind as he waited his turn at the first of three runs for the category.
Incredibly the talented FMX (freestyle motocross) rider had never ridden a snow bike until a few days ago.
He went to the start line with less than five hours’ experience to challenge the best riders in the world.
‘‘I was right in the middle of the first run and I was determined to give it everything, knowing if I crashed I would still have two more runs,’’ Adelberg told the Benalla Ensign just an hour after receiving his gold medal.
‘‘You have to use your fear to your advantage, everyone up there is nervous, wound up, you just have to go through your approach in planned steps, relax and do your thing,’’ he said.
Adelberg’s ‘‘thing’’ is the California roll, a manoeuvre he had perfected on his motorbike — and which he delivered with spectacular precision in the Colorado night sky in front of thousands of screaming fans.
Not only was this Adelberg’s first competition on a snow bike, it was his first appearance in the winter competition.
Before that his best X Games performances in his eight years on the circuit had been two silver medals.
Making the result even more impressive, Adelberg is still on the comeback trail after surgery in 2017 to correct an old hand injury.
‘‘I should have had that fixed a long time ago and it cost me six months in recovery,’’ Adelberg said.
‘‘So by the time my good mate Jackson Strong (a successful Winter X Games competitor from the Riverina in southern NSW) had convinced me to have a crack I only got to the US a week ago,’’ he said.
It had been hovering around 40°C when Adelberg left Australia; in Aspen at competition time it was hovering around -10°C.
‘‘I had a 10-minute introduction to the bike four days ago, and then had 90 minutes of practise just before the event and decided that was enough,’’ Adelberg said.
‘‘I felt the bike was difficult to ride and have to admit I was pretty surprised I managed to actually land it so well.’’
Adelberg’s second run scored poorly and his final turn matched his first.
Then he could do nothing but sit and watch, with 10 riders still able to knock him off.
‘‘I know they were as nervous as me,’’ Adelberg said as he watched the countdown to his glory.
Then he was suddenly a gold medallist, a moment he said he could only describe as ‘‘overwhelming’’.
‘‘It was such a pat on the back for Jackson and me,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a goal and achieved it, two boys from Australia came to the Games and finished one, two — it doesn’t get much better than that.’’
Adelberg said he expected to be back on his property outside Benalla late next week, where he would have some quiet time to reflect on the whole experience — and to recharge ahead of the Summer X Games in Minneapolis in July and then Sydney’s first games in October.