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X GAMES IN LOS ANGELES | ROUNDUP

Winners Get Even Younger

August 18, 2003|Peter Yoon and Rob Fernas | Times Staff Writers

The future of skateboarding is 5 feet tall, 90 pounds and wears braces.

Soon-to-be eighth grader Ryan Sheckler of San Clemente, 13, the youngest male competitor at the X Games, won the gold medal in skateboard park on Sunday outside Staples Center, becoming the youngest gold medalist in X Games history.

Sheckler skated two flawless runs, his first earning 93.33 points and his second earning 93. Runner-up Rodil de Araujo of Brazil, the defending champion, scored 92.67. Chad Bartie of Australia won the bronze medal with 90.67 points.

"It's rad," Sheckler said. "I don't even know what to think. I seriously had no intentions of winning. I just came out to have fun and just skate with the guys I've looked up to all my life."

It was a passing of the torch of sorts, as the founding father of the X Games, skateboard legend Tony Hawk, announced this would be his last X Games. Hawk, a 16-time X Games medalist, competed only in the best trick and won gold, his 10th.

Sheckler took the torch with technically sound runs that included a flurry of kick flips and impeccable style.

"I was more nervous than I have been for any other competition," Sheckler said.

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Eito Yasutoko of Japan turned in a spectacular, high-flying second run and ousted younger brother and defending champion, Takeshi, to win the gold medal in the in-line vert at Staples Center.

Eito Yasutoko, 20, the final competitor of the event, landed three double back flips in his second run -- the first time anyone has done that -- and scored a near-perfect 97.25. It was his third X Games gold medal, making him the first to win three in-line gold medals in X Games history.

"I was nervous, but I had to try the back flips," Eito Yasutoko said.

Takeshi, 17, had the lead after his first run, but could not better it in the second run. He finished with 95.75 points. Nel Martin of Spain won the bronze with 91.25 points.

The Yasutoko brothers have combined for 10 X Games medals.

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Danny Harf won his third consecutive men's freestyle gold medal and 16-year-old Dallas Friday lived up to her billing as the world's best female rider in wakeboard finals before 6,350 at Long Beach Marine Stadium.

Harf, of Orlando, Fla., won with a score of 93.70, landing a 900-degree spin off a maneuver combined with a whirlybird 720. Parks Bonifay placed second with a score of 81.10.

Friday, also from Orlando, won her second X Games freestyle gold medal in three years by combining a number of elaborate tricks to score 72.20. Melissa Marquardt was second with a score of 64.00.

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