LOS ANGELES -- Pierre-Luc Gagnon won his sixth career X Games gold medal on Saturday, edging out Bucky Lasek in a tiebreaker decision in the Skateboard Vert finals in Los Angeles. Lasek won silver and Andy MacDonald won bronze, putting three longtime vert veterans atop the podium.
"It was nerve-racking," said Gagnon, of the tense, 20-minute final jam session, which saw several podium position changes in the final runs. "It's a lot of skating and I've been dealing with a couple of injuries lately. But I was feeling good and I'm so happy right now."
Gagnon was last year's silver medalist behind longtime rival Shaun White, who did not compete this year, and had his hands full in this year's finals even with White out of the mix: Lasek, a four-time Skateboard Vert gold medalist, was the top qualifier coming out of Saturday's elimination round and matched Gagnon's score of 91 in finals, sending the judges to the tiebreaker protocols. MacDonald, an X Games competitor since the very beginning 18 years ago, added another bronze to a pile that now includes 22 career medals.
"It's finals, it's the X Games, this is the best of the best," said MacDonald, a calculating competitor who broke out a new kickflip 540 for the competition. "If you're going to get on the podium, you've got to bring everything you've got."
Sandro Dias finished just off the podium after floating massive airs and landing a gnar-jar 540 to tail, just ahead of Danny Mayer and his signature trick, the kickflip NightMayer.
The old guard ruled the day, but the much-hyped rise of the groms played into finals with 12-year-old Tom Schaar making the cut and backing it up with 900s and 720s in his best runs to show that, even though he lacks the weight to boost out of the ramp, he can still hang with skateboarding's elders. Mitchie Brusco, 15, another young skater with 900s in his bag of tricks, just missed the cut for finals.
"Watching little Schaar put the 9 down so easily ... it's pretty scary," Lasek admitted. Schaar landed the spin during Heat 1 of the elimination run and in several of his finals runs. "When little guys that I've given advice to and have had in some of my private camps are spinning 900s and competing against me, that's pretty intense. But he's got a lot of growing to do before he takes it from us."
Lasek will also be competing in RallyCross on Sunday, driving in a Subaru STI. "I'm not changing sports," he says. "I've just picked up another one."