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SKATEBOARD VERT

Lasek Ramps Up Excitement

August 16, 2003|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

It seems everything related to the X Games is bigger this year. When it came to the size of the skateboard vert ramp, nobody was exaggerating.

The 112-foot-long, 18-foot-high ramp stretched across half the floor Friday night at Staples Center. The massive half pipe brought out the best and the worst among the vert finalists, but it was Bucky Lasek of Carlsbad who handled the challenging setup the best.

Lasek, 30, finished first with a score of 94.67, earned on the second of three runs. Andy Macdonald of San Diego was second (92.67) and Sandro Diaz of Brazil and Rune Glifberg of Denmark tied for third (92.33).

Lasek, who won the skateboard vert competition at the 1999 and 2000 X Games, finished second in both the vert and vert doubles last year and was coming off a victory at the Global X Games in San Antonio in May, said the victory ranked with the rest.

"It's always good to keep progressing, keep the flow going," he said. "Every win is a big one."

The difficult ramp was a factor from the start as only four of the 10 finalists made a clean run in the first round. Defending champion Pierre-Luc Gagnon of Montreal was one of the four, earning a score of 90.33 to take the early lead.

The competition heated up in the second round as Diaz, who lives in Santa Ana, moved into first with his best score. His lead didn't hold up for long as Lasek earned the winning score with another clean run featuring a frontside gaytwist heelflip, a backside tailslide over the overt pocket and a nollie flip indy.

Lasek needed his score to hold up through the final round and by the crowd's reaction it appeared 16-year-old Shaun White of Carlsbad, the youngest competitor in the event, did enough to earn a higher score, completing a 540-degree McTwist and a 720. However, White started the 45-second run with several less-than-risky lip tricks and the judges awarded him only an 89.67.

"He had too many setup tricks," said Lasek. "But he ripped, he held his own. I was very impressed."

Glifberg briefly move into a tie for second until Macdonald broke it with a final run that included five successful 540s.

The size and quality of the ramp impressed nearly everybody in attendance, including skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who did not compete in the event but took a few practice runs before the competition began.

"I've never seen anything this big," said Hawk, who limited his schedule to Sunday's vert best trick contest. "Ten years ago, nobody could afford to build anything this big because they knew nobody would come to watch it anyway."

Attendance was announced as 23,635.

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