X-Games 14 - 2008

Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2008 by Ryan

Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek

We should build one of these at the Skatepark, except we would have to call it the Mega-Flat since that's all that would be skated. Not Adam Taylor, though. Damn, he's got it on the human cannonball launcher. This mute 360 and a frontside 540 on the quarter got him into the Finals
With more and more of your favorite pros coming out as gay, Leo Romero knows it's now cool to go both ways. Here, he goes up the rail instead of down. It would be super gay if he went up and down the rail repetitively
Eric Koston - backside flip off the chinky gap
Rachel Reinhard - front board gap out over someone else's board
Go go, Gu Gu! Hardflip the bootleg DVD gap
How many pros do you know of that are "switch" when it comes to their sexuality. P-Rod ain't one of them, but that 50-50 he's doing is
Jereme Rogers' feeble grind has just come out of the closet. Yep, it's switch
Do gay dudes call regular tricks "straight?" Chris Cole - kickflip back lip, straight
Greg Lutzka - meat spin switch front board
Sheckler cab flipped the chopsticks gap but I missed it. It was the best thing I saw all weekend. I did get his cab back lip on the rail, though. If he's blowing minds at contests like this, I wonder what his video part is going to be like
Boy Wonder - kickflip frontside boardslide
Chris Ortiz and Dune, thanks for the entertainment during the human cannonball launch
Serious meron grabs were going down over that fried dog meat gap. That's Adam Dyet
It's always nice to see Mark Appleyard. That's a big 360 flip over the rice noodles gap
Paul Rodriguez - nollie nosegrind
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! Nah, it's just Superman's blue pants. Look how high Darrell Stanton is off the duck sauce gap
Of course Eric Koston has a meron grab over that math gap, he's oriental
I wonder if Terry Kennedy can meron grab? He definitely has a front crook
They always turn their buildings into billboards here in Los Angeles
Some good old American food, except we're in LA so that half chicken is $18 and that long island iced tea is $10
Superhuman Danny Way hugs his kids after an amazing performance on his Mega Ramp creation. What do you do when your dad is Danny Way? Just give up, do drugs, and become a loser. There's no living up to him
Vanessa Torres is wearing her get out of jail free shirt
Evelien Bouilliart - feeble with the assistance of the booster chair
Elissa Steamer - making me proud with another meron gap over the Engrish gap
Oh hell yeah, more meron grabs. This time it's Lauren Perkins over the sweat shop gap
It's so good to see your friends come up 25 large. Congrats Elissa Steamer. 10% skateboard contest tax means spending $2,500 at the bar tonight. That's enough for about 10 beers at The Standard
It's a weird day and age when tight pants on a girl make you look like a boy. Marissa Del Santos - front board
This little Brazilian girl, Leticia Bufoni, kills it. No speeka Engrish. Not sure if she ever made this kickflip down the double, but she stuck it every time. Soggy floor is to blame for the bails
Lorena Lima was victim of soggy floor several times, too
What's that thing on Chris Nieratko's head? Whatever it is, he paid eight bucks for that trim
I saw plenty of flying beer ads, but no beers flying around
What do you do? Oh, I work for the XGames. Yeah? Doing what? I'm human sunblock
Wow, Lutzka was blasting these frontside flip 360's over the chop suey gap
P-Rod had switch frontside flips over the Kung Pow's chicken gap on lock
Check this crazy filming contraption. When that guy runs after you with the camera, that thing in the middle bounces up and down which makes the camera stay still
Dear Chris Cole. Please stop doing this ugly skateboard maneuver. Next thing you know, you'll be knocking out five jocks and milking the tail end of a career with no tricks, busted style, and bad music
I spy two SPoT shirts
How does Greg Lutzka's detective hat stay on while he's skating? That's a huge 360 flip
Sheckler's ripping AND he's got new moves - that's a back heel over the egg roll gap
That injury probably cost Lacey Baker $25,000
Get well, Johnny Romano
This is a random spot in downtown LA featuring two of my favorite things - skateboarding and math. I wish I was better at both
Allen Russell texted me from here saying it's "$90 beer night." Yep, welcome to The Standard in downtown LA
A nice artsy wallride spot somewhere in downtown LA
This is the small mob of people waiting downstairs at the skaters leave the street course
I can’t say it enough times, but that early morning flight from Tampa to LAX (name of the LA Airport) is great. You leave Tampa at 7am and arrive in LA at 9am PST. It’s like gaining three hours of your life that you previously didn’t have to live. Add in a first-class complimentary upgrade…and you’re stoked!

Upon landing we grabbed the car and headed straight towards the Staples Center in downtown LA. Somehow we managed to miss the infamous LA traffic and were looking for a spot in downtown in relatively minutes. At these big events it’s always a hassle to get your credentials, but this time it was pretty easy…we didn’t even get the run-around.

We watched the Qualifiers for Big Air and then Street. It was pretty rad to watch Big Air Qualifiers in the Staples Center with no one in there. The only viewers permitted into the building were staff and industry, so we sat back and enjoyed.

Then it was out to the Street Qualifiers, which was held on top of a parking garage…more on the Street after the Finals, but Adam Dyet missed the cut by one. And I hope that Rob got some pics of Leo Romero because watching that dude skate is such a pleasure. He dissects the street course and skates it in his own unique way, while slamming super-hard and hopping back up like nothing happened. I’m a huge fan of that kid.

After obtaining a properly sunburned forehead and not drinking any water for several hours, we headed back into the Staples Center for the main event of the evening. But first I want to give you a Mark Appleyard quote:

“I hope that I didn’t make the cut because I don’t want to come back to this $h!t tomorrow.”

Big Air (All Joking Aside)
I know that I struggle to be funny when I write these stories and I rarely succeed at any type of humor. Although I have relatively good grammar, my recaps of these contests simply explain the series of events that took place to the reader. Hell, I haven’t had a writing class in about 15 years, and it’s not like anyone critiques my work. However, when I was watching Big Air last night I thought, “How in the hell am I going to convey to the loyal SPoT website reader exactly how gnarly and insane this Big Air deal is?”

I’m going to give it a shot, but the bottom line is that you need to see this $h!t in person to really take in the magnitude of the insanity that goes into Big Air, Mega Ramp, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve never been to the top of one of these ramps, but I can tell you that the runway started at the top of the arena. Granted, the take off ramps were about 20 feet off of the ground, but that still puts the drop-in at about six or seven stories, maybe higher. After dropping in they fly over a 50’ or 70’ gap (your choice), land on the biggest bank ramp ever constructed, and then go over 30mph towards a 30’ tall quarter-pipe. It’s the epitome of gnarly…and even with Indy 215’s tightened all the way down these guy still get speed wobbles.
  • 6th – PLG – for some reason Pierre couldn’t land a damn thing. He was pissed
  • 5th – Adam Taylor – nice to see you in the cut, Son!
  • 4th – Andy MacDonald – bs 360 judo over the gap to gigantic bs air drop through the legs to Indy air (Is that called thread-the-needle?) on the quarter
  • 3rd – Jake Brown – oh God…they kept showing Jake’s slam from last year over and over. That’s the last thing anyone needed to see, but it didn’t mess with Jake’s bs 360 ollie over the gap to 540 on the quarter
  • 2nd – Danny Way – he’s so gnarly that I had to write all of this about him…
As I watched Danny clip his shins on the quarter-pipe from 20+ feet on the way in, flip head-over-heels, bounce, and then slide about 40’ I thought, “Is this really even worth it?” I also wondered, “Is this fun for Danny Way?” I’m sure that the rush to make a line on the Mega is an amazing feeling, but man, one of these guys could die out there…or at the least become paralyzed. It’s just scary and after seeing Danny slam like that my stomach was in knots and I was scared $h!tless every time someone was coming in on that quarter-pipe.

So Danny gets up after a slam that would have taken a normal person to the hospital. At this point, Dude can barely walk and he looks like he’s about to cry because he’s in so much pain. And then about 10 minutes later you see him back up at the top of the ramp. What the FXXK!?!? Are you kidding me!?!? And then what happens? Danny pull the fs grab backflip over the gap and then nails a 20’+ bs 540 melon on the quarter. The place erupted.

But that’s not good enough for Danny Way. On his 4th of five runs he does the backflip again, but tries to do a McTwist varial on the quarter…of course he’s 20’ because that how he do. He puts the board back on his feet on the way in, slips out a second after landing, falls about 15’ onto the mellow tranny, and bounces on his back. At this point I just want to plead with the guy, “Danny, please stop skating right now. I don’t want you to die. You don’t have anything to prove…we all know how good you are at skateboarding.”

But this was more like a “normal” slam for Danny, so he only lays down on the ramp for a few minutes to regain composure and he’s back up at the top again in no time. And then in true Danny Way fashion, he lands it the next try. Are you kidding me? I was thinking he won it at this point…

To end this and sum it up about Danny Way, I had a friend that doesn’t skate that was emailing me about the slam because he saw it on TV. This is what I typed back to him:

Danny Way is 34 and one of the most badass mother-fXXking human beings on this earth. He's a pioneer and inspiration on pushing the boundaries of skateboarding and what the human body can endure. He's been slamming like that for 20 years.
  • 1st – Bob Burnquist – leave it to Bob to have something up his sleeve for his final run that blows everyone away. After doing a switch bs 180 over the gap, he did a nearly 20’ Indy 360 to fakie. Yes, you read that correctly, he came in fakie from 20’ after spinning bs 360 degrees…and then cried when he won. I would have, too
Okay, you can argue that this isn’t really skateboarding as you many know, appreciate, and understand rolling around on four wheels, but regardless of how you slice it, it’s still skateboarding. And for all of the anti-vert guys out there, it’s not exactly vert either. I guess it is to a certain extent, but it’s just its own category all together. So I suggest you go see it in person the next time you can because I think once someone dies (let’s hope I’m wrong) doing this, that Mega Ramp and Big Air are going to be long-gone history.

Girls Street
After a VERY authentic LA burrito and a fun skate around downtown, Rob and I were ready to bake in the sun and watch some skateboarding. And if Elissa is skating in a contest and we can make it, you bet your ass we’ll be there.

The format was the same for both the Girl’s and Men’s Street. The course was broken into three different sections and you got seven-minutes (I think) on each section to show the judges what you had. Considering there were only six finalists, this made the viewing very easy and I’m sure that the judges were stoked, too.

There was on thing that I must note: The first section consisted of a rather tall and long, three-stair handrail. It was someone’s idea to put a little kicker in front of it so the broads could get up on it. Come on now, girls. I know that every single one of them out there had the snaps to get up on that thing without making it female-friendly. That’s like doing push-ups with your knees on the ground.

I wish I could give you all of the results, but they only announced the top three for a proper podium finish.
  • 3rd – Amy Caron – I got most stoked when Vanessa Torres snuck up behind Amy when she was on the podium and put here head between Amy’s legs, popping out the front like a little baby. Sweet!
  • 2nd – Marisa Del Santo – this is where I have to admit that I didn’t watch too much of the skating because I was participating in a great industry-kook gossip session
  • 1st – Elissa Steamer – rumor has it that Elissa is coming out with “the best video part of her career” in the upcoming Zero flick. I’m looking forward to seeing her flowing blonde hair jump down some stuff. Nice work Elissa, and now that you’re on the wagon you’ll be saving even more of that 25 G’s you just came up!
Street
I heard a few mixed reviews concerning the Street Course. Some people were saying that it looked pretty good and others said that it was sub-standard. That’s a matter of opinion, but it looked okay to me. There were legit cement ledges and hubbas and they did a pretty good job of recreating that bank-to-bank obstacle with the gap in the middle in China that gets tons of coverage. But the one thing that I did hear (and notice) was that it was a bit soggy. That’s because it was two layers of plywood and one layer of Skatelite on top of a cement parking garage. And it appeared to be painted with flat latex paint, too. That made it sticky, so when skaters would fall they wouldn’t slide so good…instead they would stick and bounce.

And when I say “on top” of a parking garage, I mean it. Have you ever been under shade on the top of a parking garage? Me either…and that’s why my face hurts right now. For LA standards, it was pretty hot up there. The only relief we had was when the Goodyear Blimp blocked the sun, but that was only for a short period.

I can’t neglect to make a comparison here either…because after seeing that course at the Maloof Money Cup a couple of weeks ago, a lot of contest street courses are not going to match up. There’s just no way.

Here are a few random facts that I’d like to throw in here in no particular order:
  • The prior day in Qualifiers the Chinese bank-to-bank didn’t get shredded nearly as hard as it did for the Finals. The finalists were really holding back the day before. Either that or they got used to it overnight or something
  • I heard Rodolfo Ramos hurt his back in the Qualifiers, thus allowing Adam Dyet to squeeze in there. So then Rodolfo was out there skating in practice…and of course Dyet was, too. Then they called Rodolfo and not Dyet…and didn’t tell Dyet what was up. Poor Dyet…just missing the cut once again
  • The music was pretty much non-existent on Friday, but then they were BLASTING some pretty random stuff on Saturday. “Dude, was that Papa Roach?”
  • Everyone has noseblunts nowadays. They got them on rails, hubbas, quarter-pipes…it doesn’t matter. Everyone can do them and I think that’s sick
  • 6th – Jereme Rogers – I think that J-Rog barely even practiced. I don’t know if that was part of the strategy or what, but he didn’t seem to be feeling it in the first two heats. But speaking of heat, Jereme turned it up in the final jam with a switch bs flip down the stairs and switch bluntslide on the handrail
  • 5th – Rodolfo Gugu Ramos – so I guess he wasn’t hurt after all. And Rodolfo is the one that made me realize that everyone has noseblunts. He also has another great trick in his bag...the 180 fs ollie to switch krooks. Love that one
  • 4th – Chris Cole – I have to admit that I was rooting for him to win. Cole’s just got it. He’s that legit dude that can roll up to the X-Games, or any contest for that matter, and completely retain his legitimacy. He killed the first and third jams, but during the second jam he hucked a bunch of crazy, old jump-ramp tricks over the China gap
  • 3rd – Greg Lutzka – for some reason I had notes next to all of the other guys in the Finals, but neglected to write anything about Lutzka. That’s okay because I can go from memory…and I specifically remember him skating fast, doing his usual gnarness, and doing tricks on the quarter-pipe like kickflips to fakie and caballerials after coming off the big rail, like it was nothing
  • 2nd – Paul Rodriguez – during the first jam I thought that he was going to take the entire thing. He was on it with a switch flip bs tail on the ledge and then a switch flip fs boardslide down the rail, but Shecks turned it on during the second heat and didn’t let up until it was over
  • 1st – Ryan Sheckler – go ahead, say whatever you want, Hater, but Sheckler earned this fair and square by absolutely destroying every jam. He had a bs flip and 360 flip off of the roof gap and then shut down the China gap by nailing a PERFECT caballerial kickflip over it. He gave it 100% and it was his day
Thanks
I don’t think that I really have anyone to say ‘thanks’ to because no one paid for any of this trip. That’s right, we took the money out of our own greedy little pockets to bring you this fantastic X-Games coverage. In fact, I’m a bit bummed that we’re going to miss Super-Park because I heard that Berard, Peterson, and TNT were going to be in it. It might be Berard’s chance to come up. Oh yeah, Caroline from the X-Games gets a small thank-you for hooking us up with the passes, but they seem to have forgotten to give us the ones for free food, dammit!

Ryan

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