Catching Up with…X Games Gold Medalist, Cody Matechuk
By Billy Rainford
There are moments in your life you will never forget. There are moments in life you never want to forget. #111 Cody Matechuk from Cochrane, Alberta, just lived through one of those moments, Saturday at the 2018 Winter X Games in Aspen Colorado.
After finishing a solid 3rd at last year’s games, Cody put in the time, did the work, and got the result he wanted. An X Games Gold Medal can and will open a lot of doors for an athlete, and Cody will surely find that out as time moves forward.
With a wire-to-wire win in the Snow BikeCross final, Cody becomes the second gold medalist and 2nd Canadian to achieve the honour. We found him Sunday afternoon watching the riders practice for the Snow BikeCross Big Air competition.
Direct Motocross: We’ve got X Games Gold Medalist, Cody Matechuk, with us. Cody, congratulations and thank you for talking with us this afternoon.
Cody Matechuk: Thank you very much. Ya, it was an awesome race.
OK, first, let’s back it up to last year. It was a brand new sport at the event, you came into with the speed to win, and can you tell us how getting the Bronze went for you?
Last year was stressful. I mean, we found out late that X Games was going to have Snow Bikes, and as we were starting through the snow shows, we heard rumours, and then all of a sudden it got dropped and it was full force…how do we get in?
I ended up going to Minnesota to do the qualifier and it was around December 20th that we found out that we got an invite to X. There wasn’t a lot of prep time there that we needed so it was very stressful. We were still working on things, trying to get the motor dialed, trying to make everything work for the race.
The major difference this year is we knew what we were getting into. We got time to prep everything, to get the suspension dialed, the motor dialed, and we came into it with a winning package. We just had to ride and do a few tweaks. It was a lot better mindset this year and we came to win.
Everyone seemed to fall last year. Did that have to do with equipment, the newness of it, lack of prep time? It seemed like everyone struggled. You went down and couldn’t get your bike going again. Take us through the race last year.
Last year, it got really icy. It was -20 Celsius and top 3 or 4 inches would just slough off in the first couple laps and then it was complete ice. You’d come into the corners and you’d be sliding your front until you hit the berm. If you ever tried to get away from that one line that everyone was taking, which you had to because you were passing so many lappers, that’s where it got really tricky. You had to be cautious about it. Our Yeti ski worked really good in that situation.
Unfortunately, when I stalled the bike, it was a little bit with that ice, and I hit the brakes too hard and it wouldn’t get going again. It slid all the way into the corner.
This year, I was actually surprised that it went as well as it did. We had a super-tight turn 1 with no carnage, I believe. We all thought there was going to be something there. The whoops were gnarly. The rhythm section got so much slough and powder in the bottoms that you’d hit the bottoms and it would throw you different ways .
For how challenging the track got…it was a different challenge than last year. I think the rider level throughout the whole grid is a lot better this year and everyone was able to deal with it.
But ya, it was a completely different track from last year, for sure.
In qualifying, you were the only rider into the 34-second range. In fact, nobody was even in the 35’s!How were you able to do that?
It was good. We had a few tracks that I made for prep this year we had dialed. It was pretty close to what we had here at X Games. We worked a lot with whoop sections, the tighter corners, and just having the prep time to get the suspension dialed for that was huge. The RMR Suspension was working awesome. We had the Elka shocks on the back skid.
It was just something about that Yeti that worked for us. It kind of came together…the race motor build by MPG worked great and it was the whole package. We had the right set up for the right track and it just worked.
With the growth of the sport, we had a whole new group of established rider coming in, like Ryan Villopoto. What were your thoughts about that?
It was good to see the moto guys coming in. You’ve got the Snocross guys coming in, and everyone brings there own style to it. You can see the different riding styles. You can see different line choices.
I’m really pumped that it’s me and Brock (Hoyer) up on top representing the Snow Bike athletes at the top of the grid. And ya, we’re bringing a couple medals back to Canada.
But it’s surreal, you’re lining up against guys like Villopoto, Josh Hill, and some other big names. It’s cool. It’s our sport though. It’s something that takes some time to learn and those guys are catching on quick and I feel like they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with real soon.
We’re going to keep getting faster for next year.
Let’s go through the actual racing. How did it go for you?
In the days and weeks leading up to it, you’re always visualizing that perfect race and just visualizing going into turn one and holding everyone off and going and it all came together exactly how I pictured it.
We had one little tip-over there, it can’t come too easy (Laughs). No, it was good, wire-to-wire. I just had to focus on clean laps and giving lappers room. That would be the worst thing, getting taken out by someone or something, but I just rode my race.
You were out front, Brock had to make some passes to get up into 2nd. I noticed that downhill rhythm section was pretty tricky. You weren’t doing the double-double-double like some were. Were you keeping an eye on where Brock was?
Ya, I was taking a kind of different line than anyone. It was single-double-double-single, instead of going the wide double-double-double line. I think it worked great. It was pretty hard to do and it was physically draining. I do have a little bit of a problem with arm pump sometimes, so I try to squeeze as much as I can. We’ve got grip tape all over the thing.
So, we pulled that rhythm section out when we needed it and then just monitored our gap.
Off the start, head down, and created a nice cushion. It worked for when I had that little tip-over there. After that, I put my head down for a couple laps, got that cushion back, and just kind of cruised it home.
We all headed straight over to the stage for the medal presentation but there was an issue. There was a yellow flag protest. What happened there?
Ya, so there’s a little bit of a discrepancy with some people jumping on the yellow flag. I think it was a combination of a few things: The yellow flag wasn’t at the jump where the crash was at, was one. Two, we were never told in the riders’ meeting anything about the yellow flag, so what they really wanted to know was what they did in people’s sanctioning bodies.
In Pro Moto you can jump on a yellow, just not a medic flag. And then, some of the Snocross guys, they have a no jump on yellow policy, so, because it wasn’t addressed prior, that’s where the concern came.
I tried to keep it as safe as I could and tried not to catch too much air.
So, the results stood. You’re up there later getting your first-ever X Games Gold Medal. Take us through what that was like.
It’s awesome. I mean, everything we dreamed of…so much work and everything went into it. Last year, we came into it with high hopes and came out with a bronze. We were happy with it but it’s not what we really came to do.
To have the whole next year to prep and focus was all worth it in that one moment. To have it all come together was just an amazing feeling.
We got the top of the world this year! Now it’s on to next year and try to do it again.
Hey, do you get to keep that guitar?
Ya, we don’t get to keep it right away. They’re gong to ship it to us, but I’ve got my last year’s guitar on the wall, so I’m going to frame this one out and I guess I’m gong to become a guitar collector (Laughs).
We saw you in the restaurant afterwards, watching Supercross. What did you get up to last night. Did you celebrate?
Ya, we had a bite to eat while we were waiting for the awards ceremony. Then we took everything home and went out and partied a little bit…celebrated. We were at Bootsy Bellows watching T-Pain and had a good night out with the whole crew – my mom, dad, girlfriend, mechanic, everyone was there. It’s a celebration.
So, has it actually sunk in yet? This is a big deal.
It’s definitely sank in. I mean, more conversations…heart to hearts with people, especially with my mom and dad who really got to see the struggles that went into creating it this year. It made it all worth it. All the late nights, early mornings, and everything sacrificed, it’s just…it’s all so worth it!
What’s next for you?
Next, I guess me and Brock are going to go back to Canada to do some filming and then we’ve got a Canadian National race to hit up in two weeks, I think, and then we’re off to Japan to go do some filming for Trax.
Is there any Motocross racing in your future?
Probably not. We’re going to keep on the dirt bike for fun. We’ll see where we’re at, if we can hit a few races or not, I’m not too sure. Right now, the program is 100% Snow Bikes and then, besides that, we’re going to be doing some coaching and stuff for kids and adults. I like coaching Motocross in the summer. And then lots of base jumping.
Base jumping’s your thing?
Base jumping, yep.
Well, congratulations and thanks for the chat. Who would you like to thank?
Thank you. I’d like to thank Yamaha Canada, Yeti Snow MX for creating the great platform for us to work off of, Mobile PG creating an awesome motor, Control by Rays, RMR Suspensions, Caldwell Banker, Merchants Services, Olympia Gear, Motovan, ZOX, everyone that’s been in the background, too. Living on the road, we stay on a lot of couches, use a lot of people’s shops, it’s been good.