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Mitchie Brusco joins skateboarding's big boys at X Games

Mitchie Brusco makes his first X Games appearance Friday night. The 14-year-old says he's 'super-nervous,' but his more-senior competitors may be anxious as well, knowing that 'Little Tricky' has pulled off a move, the 900, that most of them haven't.

July 28, 2011|By Baxter Holmes

People began asking for Mitchie Brusco's autograph when he was 3½ years old.

But he couldn't write yet, so he asked his older sister Jessica for help.

One night, they created his mark: the letter M with a skateboard drawn beneath it.

He called it his "M."

"Why do they want my 'M?' " he would ask his mother, Jennifer, when people approached the Kirkland, Wash., native at skate parks after a run.

Brusco didn't know it, but the people watching how he maneuvered on a skateboard as a toddler, they knew he would be a star. And he was, quickly. Bursco got his first sponsor at 3, an agent at 5 and had nine sponsors by 6.

Now, after years of media interviews, TV show appearances, sponsorship deals and worldwide exhibitions, the 14-year-old known as "Little Tricky" will make his debut Friday night on the biggest action sports stage, the X Games, in Los Angeles.

"I feel super nervous," said Brusco, who is 5 feet 1 and 95 pounds.

He is scheduled to compete in the skateboard big air competition against stars who are decades his senior.

But Brusco has always gone against older skaters: at 5 he faced 10-year-olds; at 8 and 9 he faced teenagers.

And he has pulled off a move (confirmed by video footage) that many of them, along with most everyone else, has not.

A 900.

The 900, a 21/2 -revolution airborne spin, is skateboarding's most elusive trick, its Holy Grail.

Few have conquered it, but Brusco became the youngest when he nailed it during the MegaRamp Championship series this month in Brazil after only a few hours of practice.

"Honestly, I didn't think it would be as big of deal as it was," Brusco said.

Oh, it was.

Tony Hawk, who landed the first 900 in 1999 at the X Games after several failed tries on the vertical ramp, promptly sent out a tweet to his nearly 2.5 million followers:

"Congratulations to @Mitchiebrusco84 with the cleanest 900 to date …on a mega ramp."

On an X Games mega ramp, though, a 900 hasn't been accomplished.

Brazilian skateboarder Bob Burnquist tried several times last year, including after the event. He landed one on the mega ramp at his home in Vista, Calif., the following month.

But Friday, Burnquist, 34, and Brusco could go heads-up in an attempt to achieve the elusive trick.

"I have a few plans," Burnquist said, not showing his cards.

Brusco said he might try one but added that it's "definitely a really hard trick and it's really scary."

And in general, Brusco said it was crazy just to think about facing Burnquist, who has skated for longer than Brusco has been alive.

"He's Bob Burnquist," Brusco said. "He's amazing. He skates so hard and so well all the time."

The two know each other, and Brusco's rise to fame partly represents skateboarding's and action sports' growth through fame gained by athletes such as Burnquist.

"What he's starting with," Burnquist said, "when I was his age, it didn't exist."

Brusco himself didn't exist when the X Games were first held in 1995.

But there are now more events, sponsors, media attention and skate parks for skaters than ever, making it much easier for a skater to create a career.

Brusco's career began with a 14-by-6-inch Tasmanian Devil skateboard from Target.

He skated around the house so often that he wore down the kitchen floor, his mother said.

Brusco, the fourth of five siblings (he has three sisters and a brother), soon dropped into the 2½-foot mini-ramp at a local skate shop and rode it like a natural.

The shop became his first sponsor.

He has a line of protective gear for kids called Little Tricky, and Rockstar Energy Drink recently signed him too.

Brusco has made several trips to New York to do television shows and has appeared on "The View," "Good Morning America" and in People magazine.

He has also skated in Cuba and Canada, and Hawk invited him to exhibitions in Australia and Sweden.

"Before, it was a novelty that he was young and good for his age," Hawk said.

"And now he's just exceptional and it doesn't matter how young he is."

At 5, Brusco became the youngest athlete to compete at the Gravity Games in Cleveland, an event that boosted his fame.

Both of his parents are athletes, so his skills might be in his genes.

His father, Mick, played college baseball at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho and Jennifer played college basketball at the University of Nevada.

When he isn't skating, Brusco enjoys peanut butter milkshakes, so he's still very much a kid.

But things have certainly changed.

Example: His mother bought that first skateboard, the toy one, for about $10.

Thanks to his success, she hasn't had to buy him one since.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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