Pierre-Luc Gagnon had just come back from a terrible night’s sleep after 5 bad Big Air runs two days before, which fueled his desire to at least pull into medal contention in the Skateboard Vert Men’s event at the X Games Saturday, August 2. Riding consistently hard and high, his winning combo included a tre-flip mute grab to a gate twist, followed by a kickflip Mctwist into a solid 720. He also linked together two 540s and ended with an ollie-heel flip to an ollie-heel flip 360 for a total combined score of 120 to take home the gold.
But the discussion at the press conference definitely turned to the event jam format itself, including talk about the ramp. As Pierre-Luc explained, “It was a basic ramp and I thought it would suit the style of Andy MacDonald because he’s so consistent.” In the new jam format, skaters started with 30-second debut runs, then 30 minutes of ordered jam sessions at 30-second per rider, meaning that it took major consistency and endurance to win this particular Skateboarding Vert competition.
Bucky Lasek, who took the silver despite having a fractured sternum and whiplash, explained, “The ramp was awesome, but basic and it didn’t allow us to show our style. It was an empty canvas.” This could be why, as Bucky admits, he kept his runs as consistent as possible, going a little on the safe side with a few flip tricks. This also meant that no one opted to go for the 900 which some people were hoping to see from Sandro Dias.
Previous X Games gold winner Shaun White said the format beat him because it was exhausting. “I’m used to having 3 runs -two I might go for safe runs, then another to try my top tricks. But with this format and ramp, you had to basically keep going -like 5-7 runs and it was a little weird.”
Still, for Shaun, he was stoked to have pulled a frontside heelflip body varial 540 because he’d just learned it a week ago. Even Pierre-Luc commented that that move was a highlight because it’s great to see someone pull something new, and so fast, in the heat of competition.
“I was having nightmares about landing it, but I nailed it, so it was a home run,” explained Shaun about the new trick and bronze medal standing.
However you know something’s up when you have Shaun asking back to the press corps, “Does anyone know who made the decisions with this ramp?” No clue.
But it was the talk of the event. What was uncovered was that the skaters were hoping that the SuperPark would be the replacement for Vert, but when all was said and done, the SuperPark was too small, or as Pierre-Luc put it, “it was like a mini-park, not Mega.” For this reason, many of the vert skaters opted out of the SuperPark competition earlier in the day other than Andy McDonald.
And since the SuperPark wasn’t what the skaters thought it would be that meant they wanted Vert, even if it had to be in its more traditional form, back in.
Pierre-Luc explained that what they all had originally envisioned is something more like what most of these guys skate now, which is mega with all sorts of angles, not just 2 vert walls, which really showcases the progression of the sport and what these guys can really do.
Unfortunately, while the tricks and amplitude were amazing and dramatic, and kept the packed audience in the bleachers on their feet, the event left most of us wondering what could have really gone down had the event been on the mega platform the skaters were hoping for.