By Nick Lipton – A jam-packed Rose Garden was filled with screams and cheers, as spotlights ran wild to usher in the Skate Vert Finals at the Wendy’s Invitational. Waiting to drop were yesterday’s top seven skaters joined by point leaders Andy Macdonald, Pierre-Luc Gagnon, and Bucky Lasek in what will probably be the most brutal and action packed Vert final of the summer. Without a doubt the race for the Skate Vert Dew Cup has been shaken up as PLG destroyed the competition and point leader Bucky Lasek finished in 6th.
Each of the ten skaters were given three runs, but the first eight couldn’t put a full run together. The first skater to complete a run was the victor, Pierre-Luc Gagnon, stringing together a 720, multiple 540’s, and a clean halfcab nosegrind over the hump. With round one almost over and PLG sitting on top, the crowd favorite Bucky Lasek set to drop. Round two began, and PLG was still sitting pretty.
Round two began with the first four riders bailing. Adam Taylor, the 19 year-old and fifth drop, held on and put up the second full run of the night with amazingly fast and fluid style. Adam’s kickflip 360 and backside flip showed promise, but Bob Burnquist had an answer. Bob’s second run was a banger, and his switch back bigspin was answered with screams. The second round continued and two more riders, including Bucky, fell before their time was up. The leader, PLG, continued to amaze with four 540’s, a 720, a combination of flip tricks, and a moment or two spent upside down. Pierre’s second run was the first and only to crack 90.00. After the contest PLG commented that he was happiest with his second run, but wished his third, his only fall of the night, could have been better.
After two rounds of hurricane PLG, and a trick crazy second run by Andy Macdonald, the remaining eight skaters were ready to battle. Third place finisher Sandro Dias threw caution to the wind with consistently huge airs and a trick selection all his own. Throwing out a Gnar-Jar and various 540 combinations early in the third round Sandro set the tone for the rest of the skaters. The fire died as rider after rider felt their boards slip away and their podium dreams fade into the distance. Danny Mayer managed to give the crowd a show, even after a disappointing night, with a kickflip mctwist, and young gun Rob Lorifice had the crowd screaming with rodeos and a nollie flip until his last minute crash. Even with so much carnage PLG’s first place finish had not been set in stone.
Skateboarding legend Bucky Lasek was set to drop last, and if anyone had the ability to pull out a last minute show stopper, it was him. With the eyes of an entire arena staring down on the ramp, Bucky dropped in–seconds later, Bucky’s run came to an early end, and PLG had won the final by a landslide. The night ended with PLG enjoying both the first and second highest scoring runs. He said he was “feeling good, but I wish it woulda’ ended with Bucky landing his run. It would have made it more spiced up.”