Saturday at Maloof Money Cup Orange County PLG won the vert contest. David Gravette won the street Best Trick contest and Chris Cole battled with Ryan Decenzo for the top spot in the second half of the street preliminaries.
Saturday got going with the second half of the Street preliminaries. Few of the skaters competing today would move on to the finals to join the six pros who qualified Friday night (those skaters were Torey Pudwill, Bastien Salabanzi, Sean Malto, Garrett Hill, Billy Marks and Jake Duncombe). The mid-day prelim heats here in Orange County were blazing with Chris Cole, Ryan Decenzo, Nyjah Huston and more tearing up the course.
Of the 17 skaters competing only six could move on to Sunday's final and those six more than earned their spots. Tommy Sandoval grabbed the sixth place spot nailing a memorable backside 360 over the rock bump to rock gap dubbed "the Grand Canyon." Justin Brock took the fifth spot working the course's transition elements. David Gonzalez took the fourth spot nailing an impossible 50-50 down the triple set hubba. Grabbing the third place slot, Nyjah Huston exhibited amazing board control hardflipping the triple set and kickflip backside lipsliding the nine stair rail.
The battle for first place in Saturday's prelim went down in a single heat where Ryan Decenzo and Chris Cole went trick for trick showing more tech consistency than anyone else out on the course. When Decenzo frontside 360'd the triple set, Cole answered right back with a backside 360. When Decenzo pulled a switch 180 to crooked grind down the nine-stair rail, Cole was right behind him 360 flipping the triple set stairs. Cole qualified first but Decenzo showed that he may be a serious threat in Sunday's final.
Street Best Trick
Immediately following the prelims, the crowd was treated to a performance by Ludacriss giving his fans a medley of his well known rap hits including "Get Out The Way." When Luda was finished, all eyes were back no the street course where the best trick contest got rolling on the island quarterpipe obstacle that was modified with the rainbow rail from the Mini Mega ramp. Creature's David Gravette stole the show with a 50-50 kickflip out across the island-spanning rainbow rail. Gravette earned $10,000 for his effort and told the crowd that he was "Way more stoked than I've been in a while!"
Then it was on to vert finals where Bucky Lasek, Bob Burnquist, Pierre Luc Gagnon, Sandro Dias, Pedro Barros, Adam Taylor, Rob Lorifice and Andy MacDonald battled it out. The vert final was made a little more interesting with the addition of the Mini Mega ramp. Each skater had to session the Mini Mega gap and quarterpipe before the vert heats got underway. Obviously, the skaters that regularly skate the true MegaRamp had an advantage that added to their overall scores. Brazil's Sandro Dias made history of sorts by sticking a 900 on the Mini Mega quarterpipe, the first to ever stick one on the Mini Mega in competition and very possibly the first to stick one on a Mini Mega period.
Once the competition moved on to the traditional vert terrain, the level of technicality and consistency from these skaters was through the roof though many of the tricks were familiar to anyone who has followed the verty contest circuit for the past decade. 15-year-old Barros pulled one run with three 540 variations. Taylor pulled a solid cab heelflip and Dias nailed his signature "gnar jar," a 540 to tail smacking body jar.
But the contest really came down to three skaters: MacDonald, Burnquist and Gagnon. These three have been battling each other in familiar settings for years and the podium at vert events are often some combination of these same three skaters. Today, it was Gagnon who bested his peers for the second time in a just over a week (He won X Games Gold just last weekend) with a flawless final run that was topped off with a perfect nollie bigspin heelflip. Gagnon proved once again that when he lands the run he's got in mind, he's virtually untouchable in competition.