By Nick Lipton – Portland, Oregon has a long history of concrete bowls and transition skating so it's no surprise that a packed audience of screaming fans showed up for the Wendy's Invitational Vert skate prelims. On the roster were some of the greats, Bob Burnquist, Rune Glifberg, and the explosive Sandro Dias, while point leaders Bucky Lasek, Pierre-Luc Gagnon, and Andy Macdonald watched on as young Alex Perelson took the night.
The 17 skaters were split into two heats, and each skater was given two runs to secure a spot in Friday's finals. Bob Burnquist was the obvious star of the first heat riding mostly switch during his first run. Bob not only landed a switch frontlip over the hump, but also a big switch kickflip. Andy Macdonald even claimed Bob the early victor and the owner of the best frontside caballero in skateboarding. Four runs before Bob could seal that top spot Alex Perelson took it with the most stylish and impressive run of the night, landing a huge indy 720 followed closley by a 50-50 backside 180 out. Alex had been on fire in his first run soaring out of the vert ramp with both style and solid tricks. After the spectacal that was Alex's second run it was obvious he would be qualifying first.
The other five skaters to qualify for the vert finals combined to create one amazing show. Adam Taylor blasted out of the gates with huge spins and enough trickery to lock in the third spot. Rob Lorifice, after crashing in his frist run, put together what appeared to be his dream run. Rob flipped and spun his way into his spot, and threw out some huge backside rodeos. The prelims finished with Sandro Dias's final run, which was by far the most exciting of the night. Sandro nuked into the biggest airs, stacking old school flip tricks, 540 combo's, and a constant break-neck speed to make for one dramatic
Going into tomorrow's vert final the number one qualifier Alex Perelson has some serious competition, but as Burnquist put it, "Alex is a beast, that's all you need to know." If a legend of Bob's stature has that much confidence in young Alex, who knows how tomorrow night will turn out.