X, y and z
This year's X Games have come and gone, the dust has settled on the streets of Los Angeles and it seems like this may have been the greatest X Games of all time. Records were broken, tricks went down, medals were awarded and a new crop of names have appeared on the radar.
Launching into the abyss, landing into a hill that could be mistaken for a city block in San Francisco and hucking your carcass more than 50 feet in the air sounds like fun -- right? Well, it does to me. As skaters we want to go faster, farther and higher and the MegaRamp is the answer to that equation. It's not until you look down the roll-in that the magnitude of the ramp makes you feel a bit queasy, or standing on the deck watching someone blast 10 feet above your head that you realize the X Games Big Air is a whole other level of hardcore.
Though Bob Burnquist took home the gold with a switch backside 180 over the gap to 720-to-fakie on the quarter-pipe, it was Mitchie Brusco who wowed-the-crowd like only a 15-year-old could. Brusco was on fire, and his first run of the finals, 720 over the gap to 900 on the quarter-pipe, was definitely worthy of first place in any other scenario.
But it was Big Air specialist Nolan Munroe who stole the show. Danny Way holds the record for the highest air at 23 feet, 5 inches, but bronze medalist Monroe had a run where he pushed into the roll-in (like he needed more speed), 360-aired the gap and floated a 22' 2" McTwist -- the highest McTwist ever seen.
It was amazing to watch the crew of California Skateparks build this year's Park course. First they arranged scaffolding for all the decks, next they cut wooden trannies for the shapes while covering them with blocks of foam that were cut with a hot wire. They finally poured concrete over the foam shapes and smoothed it all out. The park had great lines and cool pockets that could point you in any direction and it even had a tunnel that shot you into a mini Mega jump.
Let's start by saying Ben Hatchell annihilated the place. Hatchell hit every wall, did more tricks than anyone else and moved up from last year's bronze medal to silver this year. Curren Caples also looked calm and collected on the course as did my personal favorite Grant Taylor.
Again, the course was great. I loved the flag-pole bump, the dino-head ledge and the smooth bank-to-fence. There were plenty of rails, a basketball hoop, hop-scotch squares and yes, it was meant to look like a school yard.
First off, I was blown away by Alexis Sablon. Not only did she skate the course with great tricks, a proper style and captured the gold medal, she'll be attending MIT this fall for her graduates degree in architecture. I think that trumps nearly everything that happened this past week at the X Games.
During men's practice it looked like Real Street Fan Favorite Collin Provost was on a mission. His ollie out of the bank to wall-ride the fence was just plain rad (though I was waiting to see him do it through the corner). Another Real Street contender, Manny Santiago, made a strong showing along with Luan Oliveria.
Even though Rob Dyrdek made the prediction that Nyjah Huston would walk away with gold, it was Lil Wayne who called out Paul Rodriguez to make the podium. The finals came down to a neck-and-neck battle between Plan B teammates Rodriguez and Ryan Sheckler. Sheckler looped the whole park without pushing, landing trick after trick, but it was Rodriguez who came through with a ton of switch tricks, style and consistency.
The big story in Vert this year was that Shaun White, last year's gold medalist, was sitting this one out. I'm not sure that mattered much to Pierre-Luc Gagnon or Bucky Lasek. Both were skating better than ever and planned for a hard-fought battle with or without the Flying Tomato. Lasek, the first skateboarder to make the leap to RallyCross, gave the vert ramp a shellacking with Boneless frontside 540s, heelflip frontside Cabs and kickflip Les-twists. But Gagnon was not to be bested and came through with a score of 91 and the gold medal.
If you haven't heard there will be four summer X Games next year all around the world: Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil; Barcelona, Spain; Munich, Germany and Los Angeles, Calif. If all four X Games turn out to be as good as this one, then we're all in for a treat.