Hodges up high: ‘Slayground’ plays host to X Games competition


ENCINITAS, Calif. – Encinitas resident Axell Hodges calls it scary when he flies high above the ground on his 450 motorcycle. Yet, he always comes back for more.

This week, he has home course advantage when he hosts the X Games Moto X at his “Slayground.”

“We are at the Slayground,” he said. “It’s where I come to ride my dirtbike every day.”

In January of 2020, Hodges purchased a 40-acre piece of property near Ramona. He quickly turned it into his own personal playground, or rather, the Slayground. The 24-year-old says he started by building one jump and then more and more, and that turned into the site hosting the 2021 X Games Moto X competition.

“It’s super special,” he said. “I mean, you don’t want people to forget about the action sports world and I think it’s gonna be a good thing. We had a little break and everyone’s charged up and I think it’s gonna be one of the best X Games we’ve seen in awhile because people have been cooped up and they wanna get on their dirt bikes and let it bark.”

And Hodges’ bike barks louder than most. A converted motocross racer, he has won seven X Games medals, including in his first year in 2016.

“The first event, I went up and dislocated my shoulder in Step Up and blew it in that event,” he said. “It was my first time on TV. Two days after that was (Moto X Best Whip contest) and I taped up the shoulder and ended up getting a silver medal.”

Due to the pandemic, fans can’t attend this year’s X Games, but the games still had to be held. Hodges believes he has the perfect place for it. On his home course, he once again will compete in Best Whip.

“A whip is when you hit a jump and get your dirtbike as sideways and tweaked out as you can and bring it back without crashing,” he said.

As well as quarter-pipe high air.

“This is the quarter-pipe right below us,” he said. “It’s the 18-foot one where you pretty much go straight up, do a 180 and come back down. The goal is to go as high as you can and the dude who goes the highest wins the gold medal.”

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