By Nick Lipton – Skate Vert finals at the Toyota Challenge was an action packed hour and a half blitzkrieg of emotion, talent, and victory. Ten riders competed in brand new format for Vert Finals for Dew Tour that had two separate heats ending in a five man final jam. The day's top five skaters gave the Salt Lake crowd a true show, but in the end it was superstar Bucky Lasek who stood atop the podium for the second time this summer. This second win catapults Bucky back into the top spot in the chase for the Dew Cup.
The breakdown was simple: two heats, five riders a heat, five runs per heat. Picking a champion would prove less simple. Heat one consisted of superstar Bob Burnquist and 5th place finisher Rob Lorifice. Bob brought the tech stuff, but not enough to make the final jam. Bob's crazy handplant, lofty 540's, and a smooth switch backside air were hammers, but after the first heat, his day was over. Meanwhile, young buck Rob Lorifice was winning the crowd over with his classic head high rodeos, spins so stylish it’s sickening, and an overall presence that kept the arena at a deafening roar.
The other skaters in the first heat put on a show, but wouldn't be moving on. Renton Millar brought his A-game to the table, skating better than he had all weekend. Millar's 360 flip in the vert was impressive, but his overall skating definitely attracted some fan attention. Anthony Furlong, hurt knee and all, gave it a go and rode scarily well for a man with a limp. Furlong's disaster on the extension was ridiculous, and the 540 tailgrab into the Dew Tour banked wall was even crazier. There was a tense moment, when he went down hard enough to attract the medical rush, but he soon got up, walked off, and even dropped for his fifth fun. The Final’s other youngster, Adam Taylor, also had some highlights, but multiple 540's and enough flip tricks for a lifetime couldn't get him a spot in the final jam.
The second heat’s roster looked like a fantasy league of Vert. This video game roster included PLG, Andy Macdonald, Bucky Lasek, Sandro Dias, and Danny Mayer, who were all looking to take home some hardware. Out of this group, only Danny Mayer didn't make the cut for the big bad final jam, and he wasn't too pleased with how his scores ended up. Pierre-Luc Gagnon, looking for back-to-back wins skated as hard as he could, and his signature heelflip front 360 didn't hurt his chances. Bucky, Andy, and Sandro put on a show, and continued to impress later on in the final jam.
In the end, five skaters stood atop the Vert ramp, all looking for their slice of Dew Tour glory. Rob Lorifice came in 5th, but he was visibly happy after landing a full run. Rob's ability to combine huge air and unreal style got him his finals spot, but it was his inverts and flowing hair that captured the hearts of every young girl in attendance. Coming in fourth was PLG, and he wasn't too excited about it. Pierre didn't skate like the magic man he can be today, but his deep bag of tricks and hammer-filled run kept him alive. In 3rd the Brazilian Sandro Dias, came alive, and I couldn't be happier. Sandro might be the most explosive skater in Vert, and his massive stylish spins, signature gnarjars, and perfect kickflip indy absolutely deserved 3rd. Beating out Sandro was Andy Macdonald, and what can you even say about this man: Andy turned it on in the finals like the veteran pro he is and the bluntstall to fakie he put down on the extension was simply the frosting on top of the massive 720 he threw earlier in the night.
Then there was Bucky Lasek. Bucky won the first stop, but had a rough time in Portland. He came back with vengeance here at the Toyota Challenge, and was happy with the outcome. “I just went for it today and had a good time,” said Lasek. “I’m stoked to be going into the Orlando stop with two first place wins under my belt and hopefully I’ll get those oranges in Orlando After his runs in the second heat, he sat on top, and thank god for it. The final jam ended in a tie between Andy Mac and today's champ Bucky Lasek, but Bucky's previous top score gave him the win. Bucky put together a run jam-packed with bangers. On the whole Bucky had 360's, switch 360's, blunt slides, backlips and whatever else he felt like in his runs. He won the day, and Danny Mayer wasn't surprised, "Bucky always adds stuff to his run, he's just a great skateboarder."