The 16-year-old qualified for the event by winning a qualifier in late June
On the same weekend Stark County celebrates its favorite sport, Marcus Christopher — the son of arguably the best football player in Lake history — will be 800 miles away, competing at the highest level of his favorite sport.
Not bad for a 16-year-old.
Christopher, who will be a junior at Lake High School this fall, will be the youngest competitor at Saturday’s BMX Park competition at the X Games in Minneapolis. The event begins at 1 p.m., and will be televised by ABC.
“I’m just going into it hoping to get a medal,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what place.”
Christopher qualified for the X Games by winning the Road to X Games qualifier in Boise, Idaho, in late June. He entered that event just hoping to advance by placing in the top six.
“I was confident the whole time,” he said of the Boise event. “The first day of the qualifier, I didn’t ride as good as I wanted to and I crashed a few times, but I made it to the finals day and then I didn’t crash one time. I landed everything.
“It was pretty surreal. I couldn’t believe I won.”
The victory boosted his profile and helped him land a sponsorship deal with Rockstar Energy Drink. He officially signed the contract on July 26.
“I’m really excited to make it to the X Games and sign with Rockstar,” said Christopher, who had never even attended an X Games in person until this weekend. “Both have been my dream as long as I can remember. For both of them to happen, it’s awesome.”
Christopher raced BMX bikes from age 4-10, then switched to freestyle riding, where riders perform a variety of flips, twists and spins in a skate park. He quickly emerged as one of the country’s most talented prospects, turning professional at age 13. Although his father, Matt, is a former Ohio State linebacker who is in the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame, Marcus never played the sport. When he isn’t riding, he’s hunting, fishing or riding four-wheelers.
“I don’t get asked about it (football) a ton, but around the school and the community, people know who my dad was,” said Marcus, whose younger brother, Charlie, plays football and basketball. “It’s pretty cool that he played football and was pretty good and now I’m riding bikes in the X Games.”
Marcus has been riding almost every day since winning the Boise qualifier and feels like Saturday’s competition will be even better suited to his style, in large part because it includes a box jump.
“So, I’ll be able to do more tricks,” Marcus said. “It feels a bit different (than other major competitions) because it’s the X Games and I’ve watched it on TV, so I’ll be a bit more nervous. But I’m going to try and treat it like a normal contest.”
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