Everyone knows it's the Chris Cole show over at Skate Park, but in the world of Skate Vert, the cup is still up for grabs. The Playstation Pro Vert prelim was the last chance for seven skaters to join tour leaders Buck Lasek, PLG, and Andy Macdonald in Sunday's Final. This prelim was quick, and the victor, Sandro Dias, was obvious.
Paul-Luc Ronchetti – Varial Kickflip Indy Air
Four of the seven to survive the Skate Prelim were from the first heat. The 16 year-old Paul-luc Ronchetti skated fast and wasn't afraid to put his shot at the finals on the line. A 720 highlighted Paul-luc's day, and I'm fairly positive it secured his spot in the Final as well. A few riders later, Alex Perelson was ready to drop. This kid has been exciting all summer with a signature style all his own. In person Alex can be quiet and reserved but put him in the Vert and he's blasting off the walls of the Vert ramp with a solid bag of tricks and some of the Tour’s biggest airs. The youth continued to dominate Heat One, and you'll be seeing 20 year-old Adam Taylor in the final as well. Adam earned his keep: a slow motion front rodeo and ollie over the cut-out gap in the Vert ramp were pretty impressive. Heat one ended with "The Crazy Bob Show" according to the announcers. Bob skated well, doing his flip tricks and spins just like he always does. Bob even held the number one spot until the last run of the afternoon, which happened to be Sandro's winning performance.
Sandro Dias – Alley Oop Kickflip Iindy Air
In other news from Heat One, Marcelo Bastos has great musical taste and had the most stylish grabs of the Vert prelim. And finally, during practice Danny Mayer went down hard and tweaked his neck. He couldn't move his neck, but still dropped in to give the crowd a few kick turns as to not disappoint–that's rad people.
Bob Burnquist – Switch Backside Air
After a fifteen minute practice break, Heat Two was a go. While Anythony Furlong, Rob Lorifice, and Sandro Dias all qualified for Finals, I think the Gatorade Free Flow Tour champion Clay Kreiner deserves a sentence or two. Clay, who's just 12 years old, makes the Vert ramp appear to be 100 feet tall. Little Clay wasn't just a cute attraction though. In his first run Clay threw three McTwists, including two back-toback, a manual on the hump over the cut-out, and managed to put together a full run. In his second run he tried stepping the tech side up and fell on a kickflip indy, but I don't think a soul in attendance wasn't impressed with the young man.
Clay Kreiner – 540 McTwist
Back to the big boys, though: Anthong Furlong finally looked healthy, and the back 360 tailgrabs and other stuff impressed the announcers enough to get a, "Great spinning moves." from Dave Duncans lips. Rumor has it Anthony's board was also the one to fly off the Vert and crack a man in the face. The poor journalist lost some blood but put on a brave face and chalked the accident up to bad luck. Rob Lorifice went with his stock trick, the rodeo, and put as many variations on it as he could. Rob, at 21 years-old, is no old man, and his unique style is going to take him places. The night ended with the "Pitbull on Wheels" Sandro Dias. You don't know if he's going to land a trick or die trying, because he skates faster, higher, and more aggressively than anyone else on tour. Today Sandro had it all, tech flip tricks, the biggest 540's, and of course, the Gnar-Jar. After the last second victory Sandro couldn't hide his grin, "I am so stoked. I was so nervous, I even thought to change my run, but I was like, 'No, I want to do this.'"
On Sunday these seven meet up with the top three to battle it out for the Dew Tour Cup, a whole bunch of money, and a years worth of bragging rights. There's no way to pick a winner now, but the close scores and explosiveness of some riders will make this Final one to watch.