Los Angeles – With Skateboard Big Air Rail Jam making its X Games debut, it’s only fitting that Big Air pioneer Danny Way would usher the event into the history books with a gold medal.
Nursing a pre-existing leg injury that forced him to drop in while riding switch, nearly twenty-three minutes elapsed before Way hit a successful landing for a 92.00 score. Notching his first gold medal since 2006, the skateboard icon reiterated afterward why he was so determined to overcome the pain and compete.
“I have a passion for skateboarding,” said Way. “It’s a fire that’s burning and it doesn’t go out. I love skateboarding and I’ve been doing it my whole life”
Bob Burnquist followed up a Big Air silver medal performance 24 hours earlier with another second place finish (89.00), but like all his fellow riders, spoke mostly afterward about his respect for Way.
“It’s 30 minutes. Danny can hold the pain that long and put something down,” affirmed Burnquist. “This is the first rail jam. He came up with the obstacle. He was gonna skate no matter what.”
Battling back and forth with Adam Taylor for third place, Rob Lorifice’s eventually retained the lead with an 88.33 score. This marked Lorifice’s second bronze medal of X Games 15.
The X-Games are right around the corner and will be kicking off July 30, 2009. Here is a look back at 15 of the best moments during the past 10 years of the Xgames existence. From Tony Hawk’s 900 to Travis Pastrana’s double backflip and over a dozen staggering feats in between…
1999 – Skateboarder Tony Hawk successfully lands the first ever 900 (3 rotations) on a skateboard at X Games Five on the San Francisco Pier.
1999 – Motocross icon Travis Pastrana completes a nearly perfect run in Moto X Freestyle with a score of 99.0 at the age of 15. During his second run, Pastrana launched into the San Francisco Bay off the Pier.
2000 – BMX pro Dave Mirra competes in the Bike Stunt Park final at X Games Six and successfully lands the first double backflip on a BMX bike, giving Mirra his ninth gold medal.
2001 – Skateboarder Bob Burnquist took his third run of the Skateboard Vert final and gave one of the most beautiful displays of skateboarding ever seen. Connecting a switch kickflip Indy to a fakie-to-fakie 540 then to a darkside to fakie, Burnquist did this fluently the entire run and didn’t repeat a single trick.
2002 – In the Moto X Freestyle final at X Games Eight in Philadelphia, Mike Metzger cemented his legacy by becoming the first ever rider to land back-to-back backflips.
2002 – After crashing in 2001 on an attempt, Motocross pro Carey Hart got the “monkey off his back” by sticking a backflip on his motorcycle at X Games Eight and took home silver.
2002 – BMX legend Mat Hoffman successfully landed the first no-handed 900 (3 rotations) on a BMX bike at X Games Eight in Philadelphia.
2003 – Skateboarder Ryan Sheckler made X Games history when he became the youngest gold medalist when he won Skateboard Park gold at X Games Nine in Los Angeles.
2004 – Motocross pro Chuck Carothers competes in the Moto X Best Trick competition and lands the first ever body varial that was dubbed “the Carolla.”
2006 – Once again, Travis Pastrana makes X Games history in the Moto X Best Trick final at X Games 12 when he successfully lands the first double backflip on a motorcycle in competition.
2006 – Rally racing legend Colin McCrae enters his first X Games Rally Race, goes head-to-head with Travis Pastrana for gold, rolls his car mere feet from the finish line in the “Super Special”, barely loses any time and leaves X Games 12 with silver.
2006 – BMX champion Kevin Robinson began competing in X Games when it debuted in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1995. It took 11 years, but at X Games 12, Robinson successfully landed the first double flair ever done in BMX Vert Best Trick giving him his first X Games gold.
2007 – Skateboarder Jake Brown made headline news at X Games 13 when he fell from above the top of the quarterpipe after successfully landing a 720 (2 ½ rotations) over the gap, and after being examined by the medical team, Brown was able to walk off the ramp under his own power.
2007 – Skateboard and Snowboard phenom Shaun White completed a near flawless run during the Skateboard Vert final at X Games 13 to finally capture his first X Games (summer) gold.
2008 – Skateboard icon Danny Way showed off his determination and toughness at the Skateboard Big Air final after picking himself up to continue the rest of his runs after taking a hard spill on his second run. Way went on to finish behind champion, Bob Burnquist.
Skateboarders are known for many qualities-bravery, independence, a lack of concern for the laws of society and physics-but literacy is not necessarily one of them. While some skaters doubtless make a trick of speed-reading Moby Dick while grinding the library stair rails, the printed page is not always up to the nuts-and-bolts task of teaching the noob how to rock the next “ollie impossible.”
No mere description of suicidal insanity can make the jaw and stomach drop with amazement at how little some experts value intact bones. For the true visceral experience, skateboard video clips bring every sight and sound of a mind-blowing ordinary afternoon in the white-knuckle life of the celebrity skater.
At 30 frames per second, if a picture is worth a thousand words, each second of video is practically a book. Any expert, no matter how inarticulate in speech, can use a camera and a simple editor to convey at variable speeds exactly how they make the magic happen.
Skateboard video clips are able to show what words all too often fail to describe: the delicate nuances of timing and execution that make the difference between being slick and being slammed.
The first video recordings of skateboard teams appeared with the advent of the VCR in the 1980’s. The new medium revolutionized the sport, and also standardized it to a certain extent. Skate teams emerged to take advantage of the growing star power potential in what had previously been an underground, solo sport. The most important of these was the Bones Brigade, featuring such icons as Stacey Peralta and Mike McGill.
Skateboarding came into the sporting mainstream during the nineties, when cable TV companies began scrambling for content to fill the sudden programming gaps between standbys like auto racing and tennis. ESPN led the way, sponsoring the historic X-games in 1995, followed trendy stations like MTV.
A new phenomenon emerged: spectator-driven skateboarding, exposing the sport to armchair enthusiasts who didn’t know an ollie from a kickflip…but sat on the edge of their seats waiting for a fancy trick to go wrong.
The new celebrity skaters had a rougher road than conventional athletes, battling the volatile ride to stardom while executing never-before imagined flying feats and making tremendous personal sacrifices for the sport.
A generation of soon-to-be hardcore kids took to the streets, empowered with a repertoire of concrete-thumping moves hammered out by old-schoolers, at a high price in broken bones the young neophytes only had to wince at.
The vert skater in particular has been a perpetually endangered species, in a skateboard world increasingly dominated by the urban landscape crowd. Legends like Tony Hawk, who could sail the half-pipe with ease, have struggled personally as well as professionally with the shifting fortunes of a sport which had not yet found its destiny.
Today, video skating is finding a cozy home among some of the most popular titles on sharing sites like YouTube and DailyMotion. Predictably, the amateur wipeout variety consistently outperforms the instructional skateboard video clips. The future of skateboarding as a spectator sport may owe more to the hapless slam victim than the pro making it look all too easy.