SCS Unlimited recently took a moment to interview one of our athletes, Taka Higashino, who just won his 2nd Moto X Freestyle Gold Medal at the ESPN X-Games in Brazil. He won his first gold at X-Games in August 2012, becoming the first Japanese athlete to accomplish such a feat. We are thrilled to work with such a humble and hard-working athlete like Taka! Here's what he had to say:

SCS:  As a pro athlete I'm sure you are asked by other riders for advice all the time. What is the best advice you've ever been given both in your everyday life and in riding?
TH: "Don't forget to have fun".  I always make sure to do that, which makes it easy to continue to enjoy riding.
SCS: Who is your favorite person to ride with when you're not competing?
TH: Adam Jones, Ronnie Faisst, Jeremy Stenberg, Jimmy Fitz, everyone!
SCS: Obviously you are constantly training for big events like X Games Brazil. What would you consider your key to success when training?
TH: There's always a lot of added pressure at the event, so I always practice anytime I can like it is the actual thing.  I try to get in as much practice as I can to make it all come together.  This way, when an event like X-Games comes, I just try like I would in practice.  That transition seems to really work well for me.
SCS: Walk me through the mental game that you go through before starting a big event. How do you plan your attack? How do you keep your focus?
TH: Once I get to the event, it is all about planning my run based on what I practiced.  I get some practice time there, which I spend trying to decide which jump is best for each trick, and which ones I will need to be more careful with.  Before I actually start riding, I feel a lot of extra pressure and wish I could go somewhere else!  I just tell myself that I am a professional and that I will make it.  I do my best not to think about the possibility of crashing.  I just think, "I got this."
SCS: What is the the biggest sacrifice you've had to make that you attribute your success to?
TH: All my life in Japan I had the dream of riding professionally.  I had to give up my life there and come to the US to make it possible.  I had to bring everything I knew to a stop and start over.  It was a crazy sacrifice for me with a lot of risk.  I've met and continue to meet a lot of great people who've helped me along the way.  Now, I am so happy with everything in my life and so grateful for all of those people.
SCS: In an interview taken right after you won the gold you mentioned that you hoped it would be true when you woke up the next day. How did you feel that next morning after everything had sunk in?
TH: This time, I didn't feel much different the next day.  It mostly set in right after the show.  I remember thinking later, "I'm just glad I'm safe!".  I don't know why I don't have a lot of emotion now about getting this gold medal.  Last summer at X-Games, I felt crazy the next day!  I couldn't sleep and would wake up and go look at the medal.  I would think, "It was not a dream! It's true!".  After winning that gold, I competed for best trick and got the silver medal.  I spent all of my life to get the FMX gold at the L.A. X-Games, and I had finally done it.  I can't explain how I excited I was for that one.
SCS: How did you celebrate your big win?
TH: I actually didn't do anything.  I had a flight the next day back home, and one to another show right after that.  I've got a lot more competitions and events before the end of the year that I have to stay focused on.  Once it's all over, I'll get to relax and celebrate- can't wait for that!
SCS: You'll soon be heading to Osaka, Japan, for Red Bull X-Fighters. What are your thoughts on that?
TH: Osaka is my hometown.  I'm excited that a lot of my friends will be able to come watch me.   I am really wanting to do well at that competition and show them what I've been doing since I moved to the USA.
SCS: What is a motto you live your life by?
TH: I'm just loving dirt bike riding.  I'm always thinking about how thankful I am for my life and the people around who help me do what I love.
SCS: Anyone you'd like to thank?
TH: Family, friends, sponsors, and fans….Thanks to ALL!!!  You guys are why I am here and the reason that I can achieve my dreams.  Thank you so much!