By Paul Zitzer
There are way more than a few things that went down during Sunday's skate vert finals in SLC that are worth talking about, but we're just going to hit on the main ones and here it goes.
Besides Shaun White, the other four skaters to advance to the five-man super final are all consummate OG tour veterans that have seemed pretty much unstoppable, no matter how many young up and comers have tried to come up.
When PLG, Andy Mac, Bob Burnquist and Bucky are at their best, the only non-snowboarding whippersnapper that has a decent chance at stepping up to them is Alex Perelson. But since the aforementioned vets were at their best in SLC--while Alex wasn't, at least in the finals--they all advanced easily into the super final, along with the Red Menace, leaving guys like Adam Taylor, Pedro Barros, and Marcelo Bastos eating Skatelite. Take from that what you will.
"Bucky's right up there. Andy. Bob. The whole top five that was there today, we each have our own bag and tricks and that's what makes us good."-PLG
Bob Burnquist did a 900. No, not at the contest but on the Internet somewhere. But it helped him anyway. He said himself that after so many months (years?) of trying to land one, and now having finally done so, it's cleared the way for him to refocus on everything else. In this case it was the vert ramp. In prelims he showed that he's back in form by qualifying in first, and although he couldn't stay on in the final jam, fifth place isn't anything to sneeze at now is it? Unless you have a cold.
Andy Mac always rips, and there's not a harder working man on the pipe to be found. Last month in Portland he added a kickflip melon 5 to his run, and in SLC he was going to do that and then add another new trick into the mix. Unfortunately he never got to it. After over rotating the aforementioned kickflip melon 5 and taking the ultimate chicken neck of a slam, he was lucky to be able to remember his name much less get through another 11 trick mega line. Fourth place.
Bucky has been overlooked a little bit in this whole PLG vs. Shaun White thing, which is funny (funny if you're not Bucky, I suppose) because he's the 2009 defending Dew Champ and is ranked second for 2010. He did his usual ripping in Salt Lake, and probably the only thing keeping him out of the top two was maybe a 720 and a little more airtime. But you never know, he might do a nollie flip stalefish frontside five to tail revert and blow everyone away...again.
“I felt like I gave it my all, I just wish I would have had another run planned out.”-Bucky
After Shaun White's mind-boggling third run that came in at 94.75, PLG, who had yet to make his line, decided to go with his "safety" run in order to make sure he got a decent placing, in essence "giving" White the win. Pierre being Pierre, he stayed on and bumped up into second and managed to add eight more points to his lead over Bucky, which is now a healthy 36 points. In case you didn't know, Shaun is fifth in points, but only because he missed the first stop due to injury.
"I had a better trick to end my run with and I think if I would have done that, I could have definitely given Shaun a run for his money."-PLG
Pierre Luc Gagnon
I hate to be one of those guys in the media that Pierre called out, but I think by now the spotlight being on Shaun White is pretty well deserved. And there are a couple things about his final that need to be mentioned. The first being that his crummy run was good enough to win the contest. Crummy being a relative term of course.
The second being that, for the second time in as many contests, he did the best run of his life, during which, not only did he do a heelflip indy fakie into a half cab heelflip into back to back fakie to fakie 540's into a 720, but he gained speed on each wall, so that by the time he was peaking on his 720 he was over everybody's heads (literally and figuratively I suppose).
“You want to recreate this feeling as much as you can. It's just this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, and nothing beats it. I strive to feel this way all the time.”-Shaun White
Oh, and from there he went on to do a little number we've all come to know as the armadillo. And although it wasn't pretty, wait...it actually was kind of pretty actually, just a little sketchy, so never mind. Finally, when Shaun found out he'd won before his last and final run, he went ahead and tried a 900. Although he didn't make it, he gave everyone something to think about, namely, what's it going to take to beat the guy if he does do it in his run? Did I say "If?" I don't think that's the right word...
Check out video highlights of the competiton below