Saturday, August 06, 2005

REV: City Slam + X Games on ESPN

Shaun White

Pierre-Luc Gagnon

I went to eat tonight at my favorite CiCi's (hey Kamron!) and as i walked in there was a graphic on the TV screen that said City Slam -- Oh! i thought, there showing a slamoff before the National Poetry Slam commences next week in Albuquerque . . .

Well, no. It was the Chicago slamdunkathon championship going on -- the so-called World Championship and City Championship all wrapped up into one . . . Yeah, i know, how is one city's title the world equivalent. Well, if you're ESPN, and until someone else invents a counterpart, you got bragging rights.

Not that that mattered, what i saw (the second half) was phenomenal. First there are four guys slamming over a bar -- like a high jump bar. The world record was 62 inches -- presumably set at some earlier similar event. And yet two guys fly over that bar and slam. And then High Flyer goes over 64, and Skywalker clips the bar with his foot. New World Record. And then just to raise the ante for whenever this happens again -- High Flyer goes 66. All very impressive. No word on whether he attempted 68 . . .

But then the competition moves on to the final round -- a personal signature dunk. High Flyer, does a 360, flips the ball under his left leg and slams it over the head.

(This the part where us old people wax nostalgic about Dr. J . . .)

Then Skywalker drives a car in front of the basket and goes over it for the slam.


Then we break to the X Games, something a little bit more in my range.

After a summer awaiting the Lords of Dogtown, and a lot of personal nostalgia in that vein, and getting to film some skaters myself, i was ready for some ramp action.

What it came down to in the time i was watching was the skateboarders on the big ramp, and mostly it was Shaun White (who's got the kind of effortless grace i prefer) and Sandro Dias (who is a brute force type). Without getting too deep into it, and i didn't watch the whole thing finish, but will look up the results, i just gotta say that every single year i am more and more stunned by the extremes that kids are reaching in their ability to do athletic stunts. In some ways i am much more impressed by this progression than i am in sending rovers to mars or crashing headlong with comets.

Shaun and Sandro were both just incredible in the height and staying power of their verts. I gotta see more.

Then we went to motorcycles over high jump bars . . . oh my

Unfortunately, Aggressive Inline is only demo sport this year, and Chris Fleener was not on the list of those doing demos . . . maybe next year.

Here's the results:

Gagnon Wins X Games Skateboard Vert Title
By RYAN PEARSON, Associated Press WriterFriday, August 5, 2005, (08-05) 22:15 PDT LOS ANGELES

(AP) -- Pierre-Luc Gagnon broke away from Shaun White to win the X Games skateboard vert title Friday with a highly technical final run.

The 25-year-old Gagnon, of Carlsbad, scored a 95 by linking together a 720 spin, two 540s and a variety of flip tricks in the 45-second run.

After finishing with a new trick — which he described as a switch heelflip frontside air revert — he hurled his board in exultation back at the halfpipe inside Staples Center.

"I've been hoping to include that trick in my run all year," said Gagnon, who moved to Southern California five years ago from Montreal, Canada.

"I'm always going to be from Montreal. ... I hope they're proud," he said.

Gagnon won the vert and vert best trick at the 2002 X Games, but was knocked into second last year by Bucky Lasek, his friend and skate partner.

Gagnon's final run was praised by competitor Bob Burnquist for its level of risk.

"It was one of the best runs I've seen happen in a long time," Burnquist said.

White, the teen phenom whose shaggy red hair and huge jumps have earned him the nickname "Flying Tomato," was tied with Gagnon going into the final run, but fell twice and took second.

A crossover athlete, he's been more successful at the winter X Games, where he's taken the slopestyle title three years straight.

Sandro Dias landed a 900 in an early run but fell later and took third. He is the only vert skater other than Tony Hawk to land such a spin in competition. Dias said he planned to try a new variation of the 900 in the best trick contest to be held Saturday.

Earlier, 30-year-old Elissa Steamer earned her second straight victory in the women's street skateboard event.

Steamer, the oldest of eight competitors, said she was most proud of her ollie over a nine-stair rail. Experience counts, she added.

"I have been skating as long as some of these girls have been alive," she said.

Later at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Tommy Clowers cleared 32 feet to beat Matt Buyten in the Moto X step-up, a motorcycle high-jumping contest. Buyten had two chances to match the height but knocked down the bar both times.

Raising the bar on the vert ramp
By Keith Lair, Staff writer, Long Beach Press Telegram, Saturday, August 06, 2005

The 900 apparently does not cut it anymore.

Sandro Dias, master of completing the 900 spin move, considered the toughest move on a skateboard vert ramp, did it on his first run in the X Games 11 vert competition Friday night before 16,082 at Staples Center.

But it wasn't nearly enough. Pierre-Luc Gagnon of Carlsbad put down a laborless, technical masterpiece on his third and final run to take his first X Games gold in three years on a memorable night of skateboarding. Shaun White of Carlsbad, settling a debate over his skateboarding skills, placed second and Dias' 900 earned him a third-place finish. Last year, Dias earned best trick gold by landing the 900, only the third time it had been accomplished.

"The 9 he did in his run was amazing," the 25-year-old Gagnon said. "It stood out. I think he still had a 50-50 and backside and that's why he got third place instead of first place. I think if he had made a run without those setups, it would have been pretty tight.

"We all have different approaches. I have technical stuff. Shaun's got a million spins. He uses all his snowboard skills, and Sandro's got the 9, so everyone's trying to be original."

Gagnon and White, who participates on the skateboard and snowboard tours, were tied with a 92.25 going into the final runs. White got the score on his first run and Gagnon equaled it on the second run.

Gagnon did almost exactly the same trick on his final run, which scored a 95.00. He started with a 540 kickflip and then did back-to-back 540s into a 540 rodeo. He made a run to get higher altitude and then did a 720. He then began doing grinds and switches off the hip in an effort to use the whole ramp. Then, he did a gnarly Indy heel flip three and a kickflip fakie. On his last run, he added a switch stance heel flip, which he had never done in competition. When he nailed it, he threw his board into the air in exuberance.

"I added the last, hoping to use that trick in my runs all year," he said. "I never got to it. I pretty much knew I couldn't hold it back."

White's day was over by then. The 18-year-old fell trying a switch in which he raised his board over his head. All that was left was Bucky Lasek, who had won the last two vert gold medals.

"At least two or three times a year, I have been in first place and Bucky pulled the last run and took me out," Gagnon said. "This year, I knew I had to hit the last run so if he does, I have a chance to stay in first. I had to go for it and stick my last run just in case Bucky makes all of his stuff."

Lasek, who leads the Dew Tour by two points over White, couldn't do it. He had an off-day, falling on his third run and finishing a disappointing last.

Santa Ana resident Dias, meanwhile, said it was up to the judges on how they wanted to score his 900; he fell on his final two runs.

"I guess I need to do three or four 900s in the same run," he joked.

White took the first-round lead with a 50-50 frontside 540, a trick he learned six days ago.


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