Shaun White catches massive air during his performance at the X Games 17 in downtown Los Angeles.

Photos and Story by Kathleen Gasperini and Tom Wallace

The X Games 17 last weekend was filled with elite caliber competition among the world’s top pros in skateboarding, BMX, Motocross, and Rally Car but the highlight almost always centers around the Men’s Skateboard Vert competition. On Saturday night at Nokia Center in downtown LA, hundreds gathered to watch with millions more on TV to witness the showdown between Pierre-Luc Gagnon, last year’s Gold Medalist in this event, and Shaun White, the 2010 Silver Medalist.

Adam Taylor made it to the finals and you can see why here.

This event was so packed with media trying to catch a glimpse of action sports’ rockstar, Shaun White, that there was an extra layer of security and X Games crew working the backstage and press area all around the Vert ramp from practice, eliminations, and right into the finals.

As X Games described it quite perfectly, it was a modern-day gentlemen’s duel when it came to the finals between Shaun White and Pierre-Luc Gagnon. Competing on a 60-foot wide ramp in 12 minute jam sessions, Pierre-Luc (PLG to fans) had been ripping it throughout the competition, while Shaun was getting monster air, but not always sticking the landing from his series of complicated tricks, particularly his heelside body barrel 5 combo.

With only one run left to clinch the gold, Shaun went all out and wowed the audience beyond belief, pulling a 720 to body barrel five, to heelside body barrel five combo (which he stuck), and several other tricks that clearly won him the gold. He knew he had it too with a doubled-fisted “Yeah!” to the crowd when the horn went off marking the end of his run.

Shaun White%uFFFDs handplant. Crowd and skaters on the deck are in awe.

“I just wanted to put this down for all the fans that came out. I%uFFFDve been working so hard to get this going this season. After that seven I landed I had so much energy that I said “I%uFFFDm making this happen,” Shaun White explained after his gold medal win. “This is the second time I%uFFFDve ever won summer X Games, so I%uFFFDm beside myself.”

“I was very happy with my fourth run. Shaun had bailed two times in a row so I was pretty confident, but Shaun%uFFFDs last run was so awesome I had to give it to him,” Pierre-Luc Gagnon said. This marked Pierre-Luc’s 17th medal in the X Games.

Pierre-Luc Gagnon was in the lead coming into the finals.

The surprise dark horse was old-school skater Bucky Lasek, who made solid runs throughout the elimination rounds to make it into the finals. And then pulled off 3 outrageous runs that landed him with the bronze.

“It%uFFFDs great to still be here and skating so well. In any other event I probably would have been first but these new guys are really out here pushing it and they help me keep on my game,” Bucky Lasek said.

Bucky Lasek was on an incredible roll all the way from eliminations into the finals, stomping 3 very solid runs.

Other highlight performances included Andy Macdonald’s solid runs which surprised many of us that he didn’t end up in the final heat, as well as Adam Taylor, Elliot Sloan, and Sandro Dias.

Stay tuned for more stories from Label Networks’ live coverage of the X Games 17.

It was hard to believe that with And Macdonald%uFFFDs solid performances he didn%uFFFDt make it into the finals. Not too sure about the judging in this case.

Everyone, including Tony Hawk who was on the deck, was watching Elliot Sloan.

Shaun White and Bob Burnquist who had just won a Gold in yesterday%uFFFDs Skateboard Big Air during the practice runs on the deck of the ramp.

Shaun White getting mobbed by the media after winning Gold in a clutch run.

Shaun and his Target helmet. Dude also is his own equipment sponsor “Shaun White Supply Co.”

Some claim it was his lucky ginger %uFFFDstache that got him the Gold.