Nitro Circus Live at Verizon Center: Event Review

Andrew Markowitz
Andrew Markowitz

Dirt bikes. BMX bikes. Tricycles. Big Wheels. Scooters. Canoes. Snowboards. If a human can ride it and perform aerial stunts with it, chances are it was on display on October 8 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. with Nitro Circus Live.

Nitro Circus Live is an “action sports collective” founded by extreme sports legend Travis Pastrana which began with a tv show on MTV that has gained a successful following. Thursday night’s performance kicked off the North American leg of their tour, and Pastrana and his crew were in high gear throughout the night.

The evening began with a touching tribute to Nitro Circus cast member Erik Roner who tragically lost his life in late September after a skydiving accident. Each Nitro Circus member wore a t-shirt with Roner’s picture on the front and “RONER” in large caps emblazoned across the back. The video screen at Verizon Center played a tribute video complete with highlight videos of Roner’s stunt work and messages from friends and family.

The evening also marked Travis Pastrana’s birthday. Pastrana, who grew up in nearby Davidsonville, Maryland, was regaled by the hosts of the show who led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to the action sports star.

The show began with a series of high-flying jumps on dirt bikes from the crew, which was led by Pastrana, who then quickly introduced a series of riders being launched into the air by a pulley system that they called “The Slingshot.” The Slingshot was suspended in the air over a long runway with a jump at the end and propelled riders from zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, according to the host. It first started with the crew members riding BMX bikes off the jump, but soon they seemed to be riding anything they could, including a canoe and snowboards which made for some funny sights.  No water or snow necessary!

The night continued with various stunts and tricks performed by the crew, including bringing audience members into the fold. The first audience member trick of the night involved one of the riders piling three audience members onto his dirt bike with him and attempting a backflip with a total of four people on board.  Of course such an attempt is a crazy idea, and the rider almost landed the trick but crashed hard, sending everyone toppling over the handlebars. The second trick involved a BMX rider performing a successful backflip with an audience member riding on the bike and holding on for dear life after being propelled by the aforementioned Slingshot.

Other highlights of the night included jumps performed by riders in synchronization with each other, trick contests between the riders from the USA and the rest of the world, and attempts to propel crew members off of a jump into an awaiting Zorb Ball. You can click here to see where Nitro Circus Live will be performing next.

General Effect