X Games 18
Where: Los Angeles
On the air: Noon (ESPN2), 2 p.m. (ESPN); 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
LOS ANGELES ? Shaun White wasn’t even competing, and Pierre-Luc Gagnon was still staring at another heartbreaker.
Last year, White pulled off a spectacular final run in the X Games Skateboard Vert to edge the Carlsbad skater and Canadian transplant who is widely considered the most consistently impressive performer in the sport.
On Saturday night, Carlsbad’s Bucky Lasek had a chance to do the same thing. But unlike White, Lasek ran out of gas and fell in the closing seconds of his final run before a packed house at the Nokia Theater, and Gagnon won a tiebreaker to capture his fourth gold medal in the last five years in Vert.
“It feels great. It was a great battle with Bucky,” Gagnon said. “I really wish I would have pulled off that last run. I was pretty nervous watching Bucky.”
Gagnon and Lasek both notched top scores of 91.00, but Gagnon recorded the second-best score of 88.0, while Lasek’s No. 2 posting was an 87.66. So the difference was 0.34.
“I gave the crowd their money’s worth. I did the best I could,” said Lasek, a four-time gold medalist in Vert who hasn’t been at the top of the podium since 2004. “I put some hustle into it. I felt confident. There are no bad feelings about getting beat by one of the world’s best skaters.”
While Lasek has a wild style that makes it look as if he’s riding on the edge on every trick. Gagnon is coolly smooth. On his 91-point run, he completed kickflip varial 540-degree spin and an old-school trick called a “grapefruit” grind.
“Last year, there were not that many people doing lip tricks in Vert,” Gagnon said. “It was a big airs and spins. We’ve got to bring lip tricks back to skating. If you only want to see big airs, go watch a snowboard contest.”
Andy Macdonald completed the San Diego sweep by claiming the bronze medal, the 22nd of his X Games career.
Barros captures Park
He is only 17 years old and about 5-feet-5, but Brazilian Pedro Barros is one of the most powerful skateboarders in the world, and his speed and soaring tricks won him his second gold medal in the Skateboard Park competition.
Needing a big run on his last attempt in the 18-minute final session, Barros skied to the biggest air of the competition and also pulled off a backside 540 (1½ rotation spin) in the 11-foot pool. The 43 points he earned for the effort, combined with his 41-point second run, gave Barros a one-point edge over Ben Hatchell of Manassas, Va.
Part-time Leucadia resident Rune Glifberg, the 2008-09 Park champion, finished third with a total of 78.
“The speed, the 540s, the 6-foot airs, just making it work,” Glifberg, 37, said of why he believed Barros won. “He’s similar to how I like to ride, just fast and powerful. He’s maybe not throwing as many tricks in there … but the tricks are faster and longer. … That’s what the judges are looking for — fast and flow.”