Words/Photos: Casey Davis @air_d617

The 2017 Nitro World Games is a wrap with New Zealand’s own Levi Sherwood taking home the gold in the FMX competition. Sherwoord returned to the NWG for its second consecutive year to defend his FMX gold, and in the end he was successful! We sat down with the now 2x NWG Gold Medalist to talk about the event along with his first-ever double backflip in competition, which he landed at the very end of his run to earn himself the win.

You just wrapped up a very successful night here in Salt Lake City at the 2017 Nitro World Games in that you won FMX for a second consecutive year. Talk about the night…
I knew I could get a repeat win, but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Last year was different for me because I really didn’t think I had a shot at winning. I knew the judging system would work in my favor because that’s kind of how I ride already, but everyone was riding so good! I didn’t really have any big, banger tricks, so I knew I had to go out there and send it just the way I knew how to. This year was a different story, though. I knew I had a good shot at winning because I have some really big tricks along with one of the biggest – the double backflip – so I had that in my back pocket. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do the Nac-Nac double flip, but after watching Javier (Villegas) and “Sheeny” I knew I had to because I didn’t want to leave anything on the table that would keep me from winning.

When you stuck your first-ever double flip in competition, what did that feel like? That had to feel like a win in itself!
The feeling is unexplainable. It’s excitement and relief at the same time multiplied exponentially (laughs). I honestly don’t think I can put it into words what that felt like out there. Setting the double flip aside, I think I put down a pretty solid run. In fact, I think it was one of the better runs I’ve done in a long time. Everything was going really well, but I was still a little nervous about the timing of the ramp and the distance. I wasn’t worried about the rotation aspect of the double flip, I just wanted to avoid coming up short or going too long. It makes you feel a bit weightless, too.

How long have you been preparing to do the double flip in competition?
I’ve probably done a dozen or so double flips into the foam pit last year. Leading up to X-Games, I initially wanted to do it there first, but I never actually made it to best trick in the end. I also have an airbag, which I’ve had for about three or four months now, and after about a month on the airbag I took it to dirt. I even went back-and-forth from the airbag to the dirt for a while. I think I’ve done more than I can count, but it’s a completely different story taking it to an event after doing it at your own place on your own time for so long.

The format here at nitro world games is completely different than any other competition you guys encounter in that you turn in a copy of your run to the judges. You said that it plays into your favor, so would you like to see more of it?
Absolutely! This is probably my favorite event hands down when it comes to judging. It’s extremely relaxed, as well, so I thoroughly enjoy the NWG. For me, the judging is one of my favorite aspects of this contest. Bad judging at contests is something that all of us have experienced at some point in time, so this is a breath of fresh air. And whether you like the judging system or not, you know what you’re dealing with because when we turn in our runs we automatically know what our scores can be. We’re not going out there blind. If you do your homework, you can work it all out. Execution is one of the bigger judging categories, and that also works in my favor because I’m constantly working on my executions.