The 3-heat jam format for the X Games Men’s Street Skateboarding competition meant that whoever medaled, it would be a test not only of skill, but major endurance. In over 100-degree heat from the glaring sun reflecting off of the L.A. Live deck in downtown Los Angeles August 2, the men’s street skateboarding competitors were drenched in sweat just rolling out to the course, as were fans and photogs juggling into position to capture the best shots off obstacles with tags such as the “subway station,” “China gap” and “the killer double staircase.”
Ryan Sheckler, now 18, who had won the event hands-down when he was 13-years-old and raising the bar on what was considered possible in street skateboarding, pulled off gold medal runs to reclaim his title.
With a 180-kickflip off the subway roof (which measured 15-feet high), he seemed to have clinched heat 1’s winning run, but then he topped himself with a 360 kickflip off the roof seconds later.
In the next heat, he pulled a caballero kickflip over the China gap. But Paul Rodriguez, Greg Lutzka, and Chris Cole were also doing amazing
things: Greg pulled a frontside frontflip off the subway roof and ended up with a bronze medal. Paul continued to push it with technical tricks throughout the 3 heats which added up to a silver. Chris, who was the gold medalist last year and the year before and hoping to 3-peat, showed incredible talent but just missed the podium.
As silver medalist Paul Rodriquez said in the press room following the awards ceremony, “This was a tough competition not only because of the stacked field, but because of the 3 heats. It’s like, in 7 minutes, we do what we would spend a whole day doing in a skate park.”
So, you can imagine how dynamic the event actually was with top skaters all pulling tricks as fast as possible in each heat’s jam session format.
Ryan said it was the absolute hardest he had ever skated and the best he had ever done. For bronze medalist Greg Lutzka, as with all of the other guys, props were given out to Danny Way’s incredible performance the night before in the Big Air, which provided major inspiration to go for it, throughout the heat or the pain that most of the skaters were feeling.
Ryan, who has “God” tattooed on his arm, in the end attributed his win to being blessed by God and was grateful that in this tough competition, he was able to skate with other team members who had qualified, whom he calls his family.