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This Weekend at the X Games

August 09, 2003|Dan Arritt

An event-by-event look at opening weekend of the X Games:

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SURFING

When: Today, final, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Huntington Beach Pier

The competition: Surfing has always been thought of as an individual sport, man versus nature, with nobody to depend on but yourself. That will change with the debut of surfing in the X Games and the unfolding of a new team format, called the Game.

The Game will feature teams of East and West Coast surfers, who will compete in four quarters, each quarter broken into two 15-20 minute heats depending on wave conditions. Each team will also include two international surfers, called wild cards. Each team has eight surfers and each heat is surfed as a team.

Surfers keep their top two wave scores. Each of the athletes' best two scores are added together along with their teammates' best two scores for a team score. Each team is allotted three timeouts per half, usually taken during lulls in wave sets or while team riders are paddling out to the break.

Coaches determine which foursome will head out, depending on matchups, surf conditions and individual strengths. Each ride is judged for technique, wave selection, tricks and creativity.

The equipment: The Game allows each athlete to pick a board that best suits the wave conditions. Therefore, there is no restriction on size, shape or the number of fins.

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SKATEBOARD

When: Sunday, street final, noon-2 p.m., Staples Center.

The competition: City streets are usually the stage for games of cat-and-mouse between skateboarders and law enforcement personnel, but not when the X Games come to town. Beginning today, Staples Center will open its doors and cordon off its sidewalks for the popular skateboard competition.

Skaters will grind, "ollie" onto, or over, concrete ledges and benches, jump stairs and gaps and board slide down handrails in the concrete area between Staples Center and the L.A. Convention Center.

In the street competition, each of the skaters must complete three 75-second runs. Each of the six judges will then award a whole number up to 100 points for the two runs. Of the six scores given by the judges, the highest and lowest scores are dropped and the four scores left are averaged. The highest point total of the final two runs determines the winner.

The equipment: The main platform area of a skateboard, or the deck, is usually made from seven-ply maple laminate. The deck is attached to the trucks, which have wheels on each end. The trucks, essentially the axles of the skateboard, are made of polymer bushings for steering and maneuverability. The urethane wheels come in different sizes, colors and hardness. All skaters are required to wear a helmet.

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DOWNHILL BMX

When: Today, qualifying, 2-3 p.m., and Sunday, final, noon-3:30 p.m. Woodward West, located north of Tehachapi in Stallion Springs.

The competition: Downhill BMX returns after a successful debut at last year's X Games. The event will be held at Woodward West, the world-renowned action sports camp's new West Coast location, located north of Tehachapi in Stallion Springs, approximately 120 miles from Los Angeles. Downhill BMX is the only bike racing event and the first official bike racing sport since mountain biking was included in 1995. Athletes race downhill, traversing 40-foot doubles and enormous step-ups and step-downs.

In the preliminary round, each racer takes a timed run. In round one, there are four heats of eight racers each. Only the top four in each race qualify for the semifinals, where there are two heats of eight racers each. Only the top four qualify for the finals in each race. The consolation round has one heat of eight racers. This race determines placement from 9-16. In the final round, there is one heat of eight racers. The outcome of this race determines placement from 1-8.

The equipment: The bike used is a non-suspended, single-gear model. All racers must wear a full-face helmet.

-- Dan Arritt

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