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HEARTS LIKE A WHEEL
The vertical ramp at the X Games

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Sep 14, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Airborne from the vertical ramp at the 2013 X Games (Grafman)

Story and pictures by John Grafman Skateboarding has been a part of the X Games from the very start, while other “sports” like bungee jumping, and inline skating have fallen by the wayside. Of the various skateboarding contests over the years, the vertical ramp remains intact, pure, and perhaps best defines the sport. This is where the real roots of skateboarding are planted. Every kid that starts with a board on his or her local street dreams of being able to skate a ramp. It’s the ramp that separates the men from the boys. This is what all enthusiasts aspire to play on. The vert ramp half-pipe (a halfpipe - 180 degrees, is in reference to the ramp’s shape, and bears no relationship to a crack pipe) dishes up a healthy combo of two other skate events. One of which, the Big Air competition, is where competitors are aiming for the sky in a momentary, low altitude orbit beyond the confines of the ramp surface. The other event is the Park (pool) competition that was featured at last year’s L.A. X Games, which showcases a seamless series of maneuvers and graceful runs that flow between each twist and flip.

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The vertical ramp at the X Games (Grafman)

The imposing, wooden structure residing on the Event Deck at L.A. Live is hard to ignore, albeit this is dwarfed by the Big Air ramp in Irwindale. Even before the skaters arrive the ramp almost magically attracts people, like a Stonehenge for the modern world. One can almost feel the spirits of Tony Hawk and those that have ridden the ramp before radiating from the sheets of plywood on this hot, but mercifully tolerable, August afternoon. The walls of the ramp tower rise to nearly triple overhead. While the competitors sail unbelievably beyond the ramp’s upper limits, a serious fall back to the base can be even more dramatic. In speaking with one of the younger skaters, 16-year old Jono Schwan (the second person to ever land a “1080”), recalls his early days to us, and overcoming the fear factor. Once Jono realized that the protective padding gear that the other ramp riders were wearing prevents most injuries when unexpectedly returning to earth sans skateboard, it was game on from there on out. There’s been no looking back ever since! The upcoming talents in the Vert ramp competition, like 13-year old Tom Schaar (the first person to ever land a “1080”), are certainly mesmerizing to watch, especially as these adolescent maniacs aren’t even old enough to have driver’s license yet. Nevertheless, on this Saturday it’s age and experience win the day.

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Downhill racing at the X Games (Grafman)

The results of the 2013 L.A. Vert competition may seem like deja vu, as all three winners were also medal winners here last year. Bucky Lasek, with 19 X Games under his belt and at the ripe old age of 40,is certainly what could be called the elder statesman of the sport. But don’t be fooled, Bucky still rips. Mr. Lasek takes the gold, as he has recently in Foz do Iguacu in April, and then followed by Barcelona and Munich. Canadian Pierre-Luc Gagnon is rocking the ramp while attempting to repeat his gold winning performance from last year, only to earn a podium spot for a silver medal. Out of 3,604 athletes that have competed from the inception of the X Games, Andy Macdonald is one of three that have been a part of each since 1995. His ongoing outstanding abilities are enough to score an impressive third place this afternoon in front of a cheering crowd. Skateboard Vert Final Results 1. Bucky Lasek, 92.33 (USA) 2. Pierre-Luc Gagnon, 90.33 (CAN) 3. Andy Macdonald, 87.00 (USA)

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A panoramic view (Grafman)

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