LOS ANGELES -- Bob Burnquist was joking that he felt like a "kid-slapping grandpa" prior to Friday night's Skate Big Air Final in Los Angeles, after an injury on Tuesday left him hobbling around the X Games venue, leaving the new crop of under-16 skateboarders to soak up the spotlight this week. When it came to the big show, however, Burnquist, 35, commenced with the teaching the kids a lesson: His huge switch backside 180 ollie over the 65-foot gap and forward-to-fakie indy grab 720 on the 27-foot quarter pipe raised the scoring bar high, at 94.3 -- enough to fend off the young guns for another year.
"These guys are going off... all these kids are just making me more motivated," Burnquist said after the competition.
Mitchie Brusco, 15, landed a 720 grab over the smaller 50-foot gap, then launched into a massive 900, taking silver with a score of 92.33. Nolan Munroe, 17, rounded out the podium with a bronze medal in his Big Air debut, landing what on-air commentator Tony Hawk estimated might have been the biggest McTwist 540 of all time, for a score of 91.00 that bumped two-time Big Air gold medalist Jake Brown off the podium.
The win marks Burnquist's fourth Big Air gold, which puts him one up on MegaRamp originator Danny Way. Burnquist has competed in all 18 X Games and has nine total golds.
"The slam on Tuesday was just too much," Burnquist said. "I hit so hard I didn't even think I'd be able to walk today. I just can't believe I'm skating: That was one of the most painful sessions I've ever had. I'm just so thankful I was able to land that trick. I can't believe it."
Asked how he tackles the nine-story MegaRamp with injuries, at less than 100 percent of his full capacity, Burnquist said, "I don't think I'm ever 100 percent. Skating this ramp and skating for as long as I have, you accumulate a lot of injuries. It hurts, but it feels so good when you land! I couldn't wait for that feeling, and I just wanted it back."
Much of the attention headed into the final was focused on 12-year-old Tom Schaar, who in April became the only skateboarder ever to have landed a 1080. But Schaar failed to put it together in the final, slipping to sixth place behind Brown and Rony Gomes despite landing a 900 of his own, more than 15 feet above the lip of the quarter pipe. Welcome to Big Air competition, circa 2012. Next year?