SALT LAKE CITY — Steve McCann felt the fear building in the back of his mind, but he banished it by committing to a trick that only one other person has ever landed on a BMX bike vert ramp.
The 28-year-old Australian ended his high-flying run with a no-handed 900 — and then he dropped his bike and danced.
"That was out of pure joy," said McCann, whose rarely seen trick not only thrilled the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena Sunday, but also earned him his first Dew Tour victory in four years of competition. "It was putting a run together that I was super pumped about. That's what these sports are about — just going out there and putting together things that you are happy with."
His score of 92.38 for the run allowed him to edge the man who has owned every single Dew Cup since the Dew Tour started seven years ago and most of the individual competitions during that time — Jamie Bestwick. The 40-year-old native of England, who now lives in the U.S., won a gold at the X Games, as well as at the first stop of the Dew Tour. Bestwick, who finished second with a score of 92.25, suffered a huge fall on his final run and was grimacing as he limped off the vert ramp. He spent the awards ceremony with medical personnel.
The victory over Bestwick did not come easily, as McCann and third-place finisher Vince Byron, who scored 91.38 points, both fell on their first runs.
"After my crash on my first run, I got scared, I'm not going to lie," said McCann. "I went back and I looped out. On my second run, I was just like, 'Just commit to it! Lean in and make it happen.'"
Seeing veteran Dennis McCoy take a fall that silenced the crowd and sent medical personal rushing onto the vert ramp did not make swallowing that fear any easier.
"What we do is serious," McCann said. "When people crash it hurts. We all know the dangers of what we do. At the end of the day, that's what makes these sports amazing is that there is danger involved — even at the pro level, we're scared."
It all paid off, however, when he landed the jaw-dropping trick on his second run and took the lead from Bestwick.
Byron was the first to raise the stakes of the finals when he landed his 540-double-tailwhip on his second run.
"It was a little bit of a repeat of X Games," said Byron. "I did my big run and Stevie did his. The pressure was there, and when Jamie didn't take (first place) on his second run, I think it got to him."
Bestwick has been so dominant in the sport that he has, at times, appeared to be unbeatable.
"If you look at the long list of first-places, it definitely did (look like Bestwick's event)," said McCann, who was saturated in water by his thrilled friends as he stood on the podium posing for pictures and talking to reporters. "But that's what a competition is — an evening of amazing events, huge tricks and great people having a good time."
McCann recently re-signed with BMX bike maker Mongoose last month and the company's marketing director said it was nice to see a good guy finish first.
"It could not have happened to a nicer guy, a great role model and an extraordinary person," said Lori Peters as she watched him accept his award.
Other riders were genuinely happy for McCann, who normally competes in four BMX disciplines, but is focusing on only vert this season.
"Stevie deserved the win," said Byron. "He pulled that run out and I was like, 'Wow. No way I can beat that. Not with the stuff I had tonight.' Doing a 900 no-hander is such a massive trick."
Having someone new atop the podium, he said, is good for the sport — and the Dew Tour. Utah remains one of the highest attended stops with nearly 63,000 over four days of competition.
"It's amazing and so good for the sport to mix it up," Byron said. "Everyone is probably a bit wowed that Jamie didn't win… I think Vegas (Dew Tour championships) will be amazing."
McCann couldn't agree more.
"Make sure you guys get to Vegas," he said grinning. "It's going to be a party for sure — a party on the vert ramp."