Brazil's Golden Boy
FOZ DO IGUAÇU, Brazil -- Young guns and seasoned veterans produced a Skateboard Big Air show for the ages Thursday in Brazil, kicking off the first night of competition at X Games Foz with a series of historic moments.
In the end, Brazil's own Bob Burnquist, 36, draped yet another Big Air gold medal around his neck for the discipline's first three-peat. Burnquist now has 23 X Games medals, tied with Shaun White for the second most in X Games history, behind BMXer Dave Mirra.
"We've had these MegaRamp events here, and I've gotten wins here, but, this was unique," Burnquist said. "I'm really stoked. And to do it here at home, as the first main X Games … I can't ask for anything better."
An on-point Elliot Sloan claimed silver. Australia's 38-year-old Jake Brown took home the bronze medal, along the way penning a new page in the history books with skateboarding's first 720 ollie.
Scored in three stages, the contest got going with a jam session over the gap, counting for 25 percent of a rider's overall score.
After Sloan and Brazil's Edgard Pereira lit up the gap jam early with a kickflip 360 mute-grab and a heelflip 360 body varial, respectively, Burnquist raised the bar with a body varial 360 ollie.
With the door now cracked open to a previously unknown realm of skateboarding, Sloan staked out the new territory with an unprecedented tail-grab 720.
Then came Brown's historic 720 ollie, the first double-rotation no-handed aerial that's been landed in any skate discipline.
"I've done 720s, but not ollie 720s," Brown said. "That was a wild one, the one I landed. It was a contest. I just had to go for it. I've made one, it's time to keep them coming." Judges gave Brown a near-perfect 24 points out of a possible 25.
As the clock wound down on the session, Burnquist unleashed his own version of the 720 -- a frontside lien-grab that flipped rodeo-style, a trick he had never landed over the ramp's bigger 64-foot gap.
"Ollie 720 in competition … when I saw that I'm like, 'OK, what do I gotta do?'" Burnquist said about Brown's trick. "That made me go for the frontside 7. I hadn't done it off the big one yet, haven't really tried it. … It actually turned out to be easier because you've got more time."
Heading into the second stage of the contest -- a quarter-pipe jam session that counted for another 25 percent of a rider's overall -- Brown was holding a narrow lead over Burnquist and Sloan.
The Brazilian fans got to screaming again as 16-year-old Mitchie Brusco opened his secretive bag of tricks.
"I got this one," Brusco said right before rolling in. After clearing the gap with a standard setup trick -- in his case, a backside 360 -- Brusco landed yet another new skate trick: a varial 900. Brusco ended up placing eighth.
With two rounds down, one to go, Burnquist held a slim lead ahead of Brown and Sloan thanks to his 20-foot 360 Indy with just a few minutes left on the clock.
"I thought I was going to hang up," Burnquist said about the trick that catapulted him into the points lead heading into the third and final section. "But I thought in the middle in my run, 'If I hang up, I hang up.' But I landed it. That's about as scared as I want to be tonight, but I have to go again."
Burnquist maintained his points lead through the last round, as Sloan, 24, surged halfway through to overtake Brown by four-tenths of a point.