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'Ultimate X' Interview: BMX Riders TJ Lavin & Ryan Nyquist


T.J. Lavin (left) and Ryan Nyquist
Copyright (c) 2002 Touchstone Pictures.

Written by: Press
Date: May 6, 2002

Before making their way down the red carpet for the worldwide premiere of 'Ultimate X' at Universal Studios later that evening, BMX dirt riders T. J. Lavin and Ryan Nyquist met with the press to reveal a bit about themselves, their sport and the new Big Movie about the X-Games.


Category: Interviews

Ultimate X Synopsis: A look into ESPN's massively popular Summer X Games. ULTIMATE X chronicles all the breathtaking highlights and dramatic stories behind the 2001 X Games in Philadelphia as it showcases the eye-popping skateboarding, biking, moto X, and street luge competitions on the giant screen for the first time.

Main Film Page: Trailer, Clips, Reviews, More Interviews, Production Notes


Q: Say your name.

T.J. Lavin (Bio): My name is T.J. Lavin, a.k.a. "T. Buck The Bill Pavlo" with a triple pent limb.

Ryan Nyquist (Bio): My name is just Ryan Nyquist.

Q: Some of the things that go on in the film are absolutely amazing. How did you get into it in the first place?

TL: Well, T.J. Lavin's the greatest of all time. [laughing] I'm just telling you. See, when T.J. Lavin comes down the ramp, T.J. Lavin ain't really scared.

Q: How did you start out? Were you four years old or something?

TL: No, I was two years old when I started riding. And, I couldn't reach the brake lever. So, I was kind of like just hanging on my bike and then just steered off into the bushes, just stopped.

Q: What happened to your arm?

TL: Damn it, man, you guys saw that? It's a broken wrist and arm. And it was just a mishap at home. I got some surgery on Thursday, a couple of screws. And now, I'm back together. Now I'm the bionic man and even stronger than I was, which is almost impossible. I can't believe it.

Q: Where you practicing?

TL: Yeah. Naw, I was riding. I was riding. I was practicing. Because practice makes perfect. And I was trying to practice some more. And, you know, that's what happens.

Q: So, how did you start [Ryan]?

RN: Same way pretty much. I learned how to ride a bike when I was three. And then just, you know, jumping and stuff like that. And when I turned 11, [I] met a group of guys in middle school that were jumping bikes and needed a little place where there were dirt jumps and I just kind of started hanging out with them, riding and just [having] so much fun, just trying to learn tricks. And, yeah, you're taking crashes. But you're so young, man. You know, it's like you take a crash, and you get this huge scab. You're like, "Yeahhh!"

TL: Well, his training wheels were getting in the way on the jumps.

RN: That's true.

TL: So, that's a real problem.

RN: When I was about 15, I took them off, you know. [joking] No… but, from then on, I just started riding ramps and dirt and just kind of doing that and then started competing. And then, I met this monkey over here. And he really made me step it up.

TL: Yeah, me and Ryan have been competing against each other for about six years maybe. And it's always been pretty much a battle in dirt jumping between us two. And it's kind of crazy, because like a new kid'll come up. And he'll be shining for like a month or two, and then he'll fade out. And a new kid'll come up and be shining and then... But him and I have been kind of like… I don't know, we're almost old school. And we're still in the mid-20s. So, kind of weird.

RN: Yeah.

Q: Why do you think the camaraderie is so successful between the peers in this sport as opposed to other sports?

RN: I don't know. I mean, I don't think anybody really goes out and wants to see anybody get hurt, you know. And it's really a dangerous sport too. We all know that. And so when somebody goes out there and tries something that's extremely difficult, and they pull it, everybody's like, "That's awesome." Because, you know, one way or another, we've all tried something like that. And we can all relate -- relate to what that guy was going through.

TL: Yeah, I think it's definitely a respect factor. And like for you to have camaraderie with somebody, I think you have to respect them a lot. And, you can't not respect your opponents because they do what you do. And you know how difficult it is to actually get up the nerve to do some of the stuff that's going down, so...

RN: You've got to make sure you guys know though that definitely not everybody gets along out there. You know, there's definitely people that clash. But for the most part, everybody's out there doing the same thing.

TL: Yeah, but nobody clashes with me. [laughs] Because, you know, T.J. Lavin gets along with everybody. [laughs] Because he loves everybody. And everybody loves him. [laughs] And I'm not good enough to clash with anybody.

Q: Do you try and stay away from the vert trip?

TL: No, I think it's two kind of separate disciplines. I used to ride a little bit of vert. And you can definitely adapt stuff. It's just different. You know, like dirt jumping you -- it's more, I guess, horizontal. You know, like you're going off jumps and stuff. But vert -- vert riding is straight up and straight down like in the same spot. It's just kind of different.

RN: It's exactly the same thing, but it's different.

TL: Yeah.

RN: It is kind of weird. It's hard to explain, but you can definitely do different tricks and stuff like that. But I think vert riding is probably one of the hardest things to do…

Q: They are making this film. Did you act differently doing the bike stuff [in front of the cameras]?

TL: No, really to be honest, the IMAX thing didn't affect me one bit at the X Games. Because I didn't even really take it seriously to be honest. I mean, I heard about it. It's going to be this big, fancy movie whatever. But there [have been] been a million different people [who have] come and tried to make documentaries. And it never worked out, never did this and never did that. They're like the promises, the sky's the limit, this that. And we're like, "Okay, whatever." Whatever. Whatever. And it's just like one more interview when you're there.

And it's just a big hectic mess. And I lost, you know. It was unbelievable, I lost. And my friend Ryan lost. I don't know what happened. But naw, I'm just joking. We didn't even really think about it then. And it was so far away. It was just like yeah, we're doing this IMAX movie. We're like, "Okay, cool. Whatever." And to be honest, we didn't think it was going to be this big. And then all of the sudden, it just started snowballing. I started seeing ads for it. And I was like, "Man, I wonder if we're in that."

RN: Yeah.

TL: And then, "Whammo!" it's huge. And it's big. And then we're psyched, and it's cool.

Q: What did you think when you saw it?

RN: I haven't seen it.

Q: Oh, you haven't?

TL: Naw, I haven't seen it either.

Q: All right. You got to see it.

TL: How is it?

Q: Good. Very good.

TL: Well, there you go.

Q: We were disappointed it was over actually.

TL: Really?

Q: Yeah.

TL: Well, that's good. That's a good movie.

Q: How do you guys feel about the possible commercialization of the sport to the point where it's even bigger?

TL: To be honest, I think the good part about it would be that people would be able to get sponsorships and stuff like that that would make them be able to ride bikes for a living, do what they love for a living. And that would be awesome to have a hundred guys in the sport making a living like bowling or whatever where everybody enters a tournament, gets paid . . .

RN: I was thinking more like golf, like where the 150th dude [makes money]… We're not at that level yet. But I think for that fact, yeah, it would be awesome.

Q: Would you like to see it in the summer Olympics?

RN: That would be weird.

TL: I think like it's kind of weird. Like I got a weird, kind of jaded attitude about sports and stuff. And I think that sometimes they're stretching the word, "sport." I think sport is something that you can actually get hurt at, you know what I mean. Like basketball is a sport, because you can get hurt. Baseball is a sport. You can get hurt. And then, you know, bike riding and all. These are sports. I think a thing like curling and a thing like, whatever some of those other goofy sport they call sports are…

Q: Golf?

RN: I mean, golf you could pull a back muscle. So, it's kind of… [a "sport"] But curling, I mean, it's an "activity." It's not a sport. It's an activity, which there's nothing wrong with. But, I mean, to say that you won a gold medal at the Olympics, you're thinking like some dude just flew down a hill, ski jumped a 180 million feet. And then all of the sudden, now he's just this bad dude.

TL: Yeah.

RN: But like a curling guy -- I like curling, you know. Don't got nothing wrong against it. I mean, I love you Canadian people. Everything's great. But dude, curling is not a sport. It's an activity.

TL: When they -- when you tell us... that we're Olympic too, all I picture is is like gladiator, like dudes hooking javelins…

RN: Yeah.

TL: Just grueling like running races and stuff like [that] -- they're kind of stretching it out a little bit. I think you leave the Olympics alone. We have our own thing. We're happy with what we got. And I think it's cool that it's separate. And to be honest, the money is great; [it's great] that they're [producing] revenue from our sport. And I think it's great that they're generating all this stuff and all the press and everything. And, hopefully it keeps going, and it gets bigger for everybody like Ryan said. But, as far as the Olympics go, we can take it or leave it.

Q: When did you guys switch from just having fun on your bikes to I'm going to go pro?

TL: Still haven't switched.

RN: Yeah.

TL: Still the same -- same attitude exactly.

RN: Yeah, if you were to see us at home like, beyond cameras or competitions, I mean, we're doing the same stuff pretty much.

Q: Like when you were 12.

RN: Yeah, it's just a higher level of tricks now. You know, it's like we're all out there with our bikes.

TL: A little bit more dangerous but...

RN: Yeah.

TL: Neither one of us decided that we were going to be pros.

RN: Especially to decide to make a living on it.

TL: We were both working real jobs. We were both working the worst jobs ever. He still goes to his. I still go to mine. But mine wasn't really that bad. I was a stock room worker. I had to stock like drinks and nature [stuff] in this local jiffy market.

RN: I had 12 jobs. I was a little Jamaican when I was 15 years old. I was… an ice cream worker. I did that for a minute for four bucks. And then I was a runner. I was a mover. I did nuts and bolts factory like with all the Mexican people. They all spoke Mexican and not me.

Q: Did you ever make enough money at this sport that you could live off it with endorsements and things like that? Is that what you're hoping this film might do for you?

TL: Oh, no. We're doing it now.

RN: Me and T.J. are making a pretty comfortable living.

Q: Oh, you do make a little.

TL: Yeah, we're good now.

RN: Yeah. We own houses.

TL: Oh, yeah. We're cool.

Q: Yeah, they've got cars.

TL: Yeah, we're doing great. But I'm saying when we were younger, it was tough. But we just wanted everybody else to be cool too. Like, there's only like ten guys in [Ultimate X] that do good. You know what I mean? Or actually, there's like maybe five guys that do real good. And then there's like ten dudes that make a living and 15 guys...

Q: So, you make the money by winning the competitions.

TL: No.

RN: Mainly endorsements.

TL: Mainly sponsorships and stuff, like corporate sponsors.

RN: They come. The bigger contests like the X Games, they have a pretty big prize for us. You know, it's like 20 grand for first place. And that's definitely sick. For one weekend, I guess, if you really want to cut it down, it's one weekend of doing what we love. And if you do well, you know, well enough to beat everybody else, and you get 20 grand for it, I'd say that's pretty awesome.

TL: That's all bonus though. Like you can't depend on it.

RN: Yeah.

TL: I mean, there's some good guys. I mean, Ryan would show up. Mike would show up. I mean, Nasty will show up. And like there's a bunch of guys that are going to show up. You're not going to just go there and walk 20 grand.

RN: Yeah.

TL: It's a coin toss pretty much. There's a lot of good guys. And -- I mean, it's pretty gnarly.

RN: Yeah, especially a contest just like the X Games. Another thing I was going to say in the past too about those guys being there filming and stuff, I guess it was pretty nice having them here. Like they're filming the IMAX people. Because they were kind of in the background to where they didn't really [get]involved too much in what we were doing. And that way, we weren't really stressed about them being there. But also, they could catch us just acting natural too.

TL: Yeah.

RN: Because we weren't aware of them being there right.

TL: It was cool.

RN: So, what you see in the film is actually us being us, you know, at a competition. And they see the emotions and the stressfulness. And, you know, just really [the amount of stress]… which was awesome.

Q: Do you guys still get nervous?

RN: Hell, yeah.

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