Today I fielded my first official complaint about what I thought was
my illustrious blogging. Yes. I was as shocked as you are. And here I
thought blogging was all just fun and games. The greivence came from
what I thought was a rather unlikely source: Chris Miller….heard of
him? Yeah, turns out he thinks I came in a little light on my
coverage of the vert prelims. “Really?” I thought. “I guess nobody
told him that Sheckler doesn’t skate vert…” (although on a side note,
if you’ve seen the absolute monstrous size of the “street” obstacles
at Sheckler’s private training facility you’d start to question
whether he might be thinking about crossing over). The real reason
that I kind of glossed over it I think, is that I’m not so sure about
the commitment level to vert of all you folks out there there in
blogsville. You have to want it! And to be honest I just haven’t been
getting that vibe from you Sheckler fanatics. That being said, I
think it’s my job to tell you that you should be acting just as
ridiculously crazy for PLG as you do for the Sheckster. I know Chris
would appreciate it at least.

I can say with confidence that it’s totally and completely impossible
to fully and 100% appreciate vert if you’ve never dropped in before.
So I forgive you. But I’m going to need you to at least get to
somewhere around an 80% appreciation rate, and the more you try to
appreciate it, the better you’ll get at appreciating it. When you see
vert skating on TV, or watch it from ground level or any kind of
distance, it looks really fun, but it also looks oddly easy. Like,
“why do these guys even fall doing something so elementary?” That’s
why I’ve suggested to some of the higher ups over at NBC that at
future events, as the crowd files into the arena before the vert
comp, they be required to walk up the stairs of the vert ramp, onto
the platform, and then right up over to the coping. They don’t even
need to bring a board up there. I can’t tell you how many random
people I’ve seen do this at skateparks or wherever, only to slink
back from the edge in terror, as if they were on the edge of an 800
foot tall building in a windstorm. Once you realize that dropping in
is really scary, and kind of difficult (at first at least), your
appreciation (and subsequent level of enthusiasm) for tricks like
540’s and nollie flip mutes will naturally increase accordingly. But
from what I’ve been told, apparently there’s some sort of a liability
issue with forcing people to stand close to the edge of tall scary
structures, so I think my idea is being put on the shelf, at least
through the end of the ’09 season. But I digress.

So, whether you’re a long time lover of vert or one of my newly
converted 80 percenters, the start to the vert finals was a sloooow
one indeed. After the first runs only one person had managed to stay
on their skateboard for the allotted 45 seconds: And that person was
PLG. It seemed for the rest of the dudes there was just something in
the air (and for a change I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT Sandro Dias…ATHOUGH
HE WAS UP THERE TOO). Even Bucky fell victim to the kneeslide
monster, and since it caught up with him on the very first trick, he
held an uncomfortable anti-lead (10th place) with a very soft score
of 2. Remember, the judging is based on a 100 point scale. So to help
put it into perspective, he was a mere 98 points away from absolute

Of course these dudes are the absolute best pro vert skaters in the
world, so they weren’t about to keep falling and let the judges
decide whose bails would count against whom the most…or least…or
whatever. So by the second round they had buckled down and were
staying on (And I guess I should mention that they also did a bunch
of really cool tricks in the process). By the end of the third round
they’d turned a bail fest into one of the most exciting vert contests
of all time. Here’s the final placings and some random junk about
that stood out in the bedlam.

10: Danny Mayer. His line was ridiculous. Starting his run with back
to back to back flip tricks and then trying the kickflip McTwist two
walls later. It just didn’t happen for him in Portland. But after his
time was up, he went ahead and threw down the kickmick for the crowd,
then popped out and simulated shooting himself in the head. He’ll get
’em in SLC.

9: Anthony Furlong. Not all flip tricks are that hard, but if your
head’s not screwed on right the day of a contest they can suddenly
become impossible. It seems like that’s what happened to Furlong. But
it all works out since he didn’t think his prelims run was good
enough to put him into the finals anyway. Maybe he was taking a dive
for his fellow bros on the pipe? Yeah, probably not.

8. Alex Perelson. If the buzzer would have sounded after 32 seconds
he might have been the winner. It didn’t. He wasn’t.

7. Rob Lorifice. In Portland, Rob proved how gnarly the vert finals
really are. He did what was debatably a top three run, which included
two frontside fives (one being of the stale fish variety), and like
13 other amazing tricks, and then fell right at the buzzer, landing
him at the end of people who actually landed a run…

6. Bucky Lasek. On his second run he was almost at the end of one of
his famous “I’m about to snatch the lead away from Pierre Luc” runs,
only to bail an invert to fakie with three seconds left. He seems to
add another 80’s trick to his run every time I see him these days.
But always with a twist. Like a bean plant where he blasts like three
feet out. I’m still waiting to see the heelflip frontside boneless.

5. Adam Taylor. He was wearing custom Portand Trailblazer knee pads
which begs the question, can you knee slide out of dunk?

4. Bob Burnquist. He looked like a saint in all white, but skated
like he was possessed by something evil…it just wasn’t quite evil
enough to break him into the top three.

3. Sandro Dias. It all came down to his last trick. The gnar jar.
He’s the only one in the world that can do it and very possibly the
only one that ever will. I supposed it didn’t hurt that he also did a
couple of 10 foot high 540s.

2. Andymac. Going back to the first ever Dew event, here is the
entire list of Andymac’s results in the 21 finals leading up to
Porland: 4th, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 7th, 3rd, 3rd, 5th,
4th, 4th, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Crazy right?

1. PLG. He won with a margin of 5.25 points, which loosely translated
from the numerical means: The boy good. He real good.