Pastrana wins, but gravity trumps innovation at X Games

Posted: Sunday, August 07, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Gravity trumped innovation Saturday at the X Games, as two bold attempts at new tricks resulted in fall after fall.

Shaggy-haired skateboarder Shaun White slammed 29 times into a vert ramp while trying to pull off an unprecedented triple spin, or 1080. And muscular BMXer Kevin Robinson couldn't quite land any of his five attempts at a vert trick nobody else has tried: the double flair, or two backflips with a 180-degree turn.

But smiley showman Travis Pastrana was able to avoid any nasty spills en route to victory in Moto X freestyle, the dangerous sport of high-flying dirt bikes and mid-air acrobatics.

Pastrana roared through his first run with modified backflips, wall rides and an impressive kiss of death, a trick in which the rider stretches vertically facing down while hanging onto cycle handlebars.

At the end, he intentionally backflipped off his bike and ran along the edge of the Home Depot Center course in Carson, slapping hands with fans.

''X Games, it's an event but it's still ... it's a show. I try to put on the best show possible,'' said Pastrana, 21, of Annapolis, Md. ''I'm thrilled. This is awesome.''

Pastrana had won four straight X Games freestyle titles until last year, when he finished second. Kenny Bertram completed his new sidesaddle backflip and placed second Saturday and last year's champ Nate Adams was third.

Robinson and White placed last in their respective best trick competitions, which were won by Jamie Bestwick in BMX — with a flair double tailwhip — and Bob Burnquist in skateboard with a frontside 540 Nar-Jar, in which he hit the back of the board on the ramp's lip while landing.

Fellow athletes at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles praised the failed efforts at innovation while marveling at the risks involved.

''Things are just getting so crazy, so big. We're at the boundaries where it's either injury or success,'' said BMX biker Tim Wood, whose 900-degree spin wasn't enough for a medal.

Elsewhere on the action sports competition's most action-packed day, veteran Dave Mirra won BMX freestyle park, Danny Harf and Dallas Friday topped their wakeboarding contests and Cara-Beth Burnside won the women's skateboard vert.

Mirra was left shaking his head and saying ''I'm not a judge,'' after receiving higher marks than younger riders like Scotty Cranmer who had ''flawless runs.''

''I was like, 'Dude, I can't believe it,''' he said. ''I don't know where I fit in. But I'm psyched. Whatever.''

Mirra is the leading all-time X Games medal winner with 20 at the end of Saturday, and may have been a sentimental favorite with judges after suffering a concussion in a nasty fall Thursday during BMX vert. He had a partially blackened right eye.

Friday, the teen from Florida who has dominated in her sport, won her third straight women's wakeboarding title at Long Beach Marine Stadium with tricks including a scarecrow, toeside front roll and indy grab.

''All the other girls went out there and rode pretty good, not as good as yesterday (in preliminaries), but I knew what I had to do,'' she said.

Harf, a 20-year-old who also lives in Florida, included two 540-degree rotations, a 720 and a 900 with a heelside grab to earn his fourth X Games gold medal.

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