“2016 was amazing,” says Tucson’s local BMX hero Kevin Peraza. In only his 3rd ever X-Games, Peraza is now an X-Games gold medal champion. “Never in my life would I think I’d walk away with a medal, never less a gold medal,” says Peraza. The BMX dirt champion said it already felt like a win, being 1 of 12 riders invited.... “I can come back this year without feeling the pressure of hey you're the defending gold medalist, but hey you've won it before.”
After Peraza's gold medal performance in 2016, the 22 year old enters the X-Games this year with an entirely new outlook on his sport....one, with appreciation. “If I can be a motivation to the local kids here, or my little brothers or my friends. And guiding new kids and the new generation of BMX riders to reach the impossible because I started from nothing you know.”
Kevin now wants to dedicate a lot of time to those that supported him when he hadn't won anything yet. Like here, at Cicli Noe bike shop, where the owner helped him with bike parts when he couldn't afford it. Now, the bike shop sports a mural of Kevin. “The whole mural on the side was a big surprise for me, and a big excitement,” says Peraza. “I still can't believe it. I'm actually pretty shy about it. It's got my last name on there, so it's not just a photo of me, but a whole representation of what my family is about.”
And with the Peraza family in tow, this champ is now returning to the X-Games in Minnesota, as a seasoned pro. “I get the question a lot like what do you feel like? Are you scared or are you nervous when you're out? I'm only nervous when I drop in. Once I drop in, it's all like a big blank space for me,” says Peraza.
But despite all his success at such a young age, Kevin says he's still human. “I’m the clumsiest person as well. Have an amazing session at the skate park, and trip down the stairs walking back to the car.” With an X-Games win under his belt, could the best move be to leave Tucson, and relocate to California, where the best training courses are? Peraza insists, he's happy here at home....for now.
“I’ve always thought about moving to California because the companies are there, my friends that I compete with are there, all the good skate parks. But as the scene grows in Tucson, we have skate parks like Premisis skate park here in Tucson, that are supporting BMX, skate, scooter, every action sports that kids want to express. And action sports are growing,” says Peraza.
As he looks to defend his gold medal performance this weekend, there's still much more ahead for the Tucsonan. “I'm 22 and I’m still growing and I’m still learning....and I’m still motivated as I was as a kid. I'm still hungry for more.”
The full X-Games schedule can be found here: http://xgames.espn.com/xgames/events/2017/minneapolis/schedule/tv