Lasek Wins One For The Ageless
BARCELONA, Spain -- Thursday's Skateboard Vert competition was held on the site of the diving venue from the 1992 Olympics, where the steeples of Gaudi's Sagrada Família and the city of Barcelona spread out below for a stunning backdrop. With the sun bathing the scene in a rich glow, the view was so spectacular that 16-year-old bronze medalist Mitchie Brusco said he spent time gazing out at the city while 26-year-old silver medalist Marcelo Bastos actually climbed halfway up a light standard for a better look after the competition.
And what did 40-year-old gold medalist Bucky Lasek make of the view? "Whoa!" he said. "I didn't even realize that was there!"
Lasek quickly added that he was just kidding. He had glanced at the Barcelona view, "but I was concentrating on this over here," he said, pointing to the vert ramp. "You gotta stay focused, gotta stay motivated, because the skating these days is getting unreal."
That is the wisdom of age and experience speaking. Lasek is the oldest skateboarder at the X Games, but Thursday's gold medal was his second in as many months -- he also won by the waterfalls at Foz do Iguaçu -- and the eighth of his career. Not only that, but Sunday he'll step off the skateboard and sit behind the wheel of his rally car for RallyCross.
All that at age 40. Even Jamie Moyer, the MLB pitcher whose career spanned four decades, would be impressed.
"The advantage of experience is I know what I should try to do to get me where I need to be," Lasek said. "The disadvantage of age is that one fall rekindles an old injury.
"Say it's my ankle or my wrist -- all it takes is one fall, and it's like a re-injury. Maybe I broke my wrist a few years back and I hit my hand now and it's sprained really bad because there are loose tendons and my bone structure is just tweaked. I've taken some hits."
Lasek has taken some hits just in the past week. He hit his head twice -- once in competition and once in practice -- and slammed his left elbow and hip.
"My body is definitely sore," he said. "I've gotta admit I wasn't really into riding and stepping on my skateboard again after these last couple weeks of competing. But I had nothing to lose. Nothing to prove. I'm still in my prime at 40, and I'm still charging."
Bastos won the opening lip-trick section, while Brusco won the closing best-trick section by landing his first 900 on vert. (He has landed 900s on the MegaRamp.) But Lasek won the middle full-run section that was worth 50 percent of the total points.
"He probably has twice as many years of skating as I do," Bastos said of Lasek. "And with vert, it's something in skateboarding you can do a lot longer than street. So the older you are, the more experience you have; the more time on the board, the more strategy you have in a contest. I think it helps to be the older guy. You may not have the same strength and the young legs, but you have the smart head."
Bastos can look forward to gaining more experience, as can Brusco, who is young enough that he grew four inches -- from 5-foot-4 to 5-8 -- in just the past six months. And apparently he already has the smart head.
"If he's talking about something, he's landed it in his head a thousand times," said Brusco's mother, Jennifer. "He's so technical, he already knows how it plays out. That 900 he landed today? In his head he had already done it."
"His skating has really gotten more powerful," Lasek said. "He's gone bigger. He does the flip tricks along with the spins. His bag of tricks is very technical, and he's starting to put it together. Him and Marcelo are going to be big threats."
Yes, but first they must get past Lasek, who isn't giving away anything at age 40. As Brusco was about to step onto the podium for his bronze medal in Vert, Lasek said encouragingly, "Just a couple more steps there, Mitch." Moments later, Lasek stepped past him and took the top step for his gold medal.