Posted by:on August 3rd, 2007
I don’t watch the X-Games, even if I come across them by accident. I know, it’s hard to believe. When I came into work this morning a coworker in his 40’s who doesn’t skate had already emailed me about Jake Browns’s slam to flat on the mega ramp. It’s every vert rider’s worse nightmare, multiplied by 10. That’s right, he fell almost to flat from 15 feet above the coping. How tall are those mega ramps? 20, 30ft? Unofficial word is that he fell about 45-50 ft. It’s sickening to watch, but he actually walked off under his own power 20 minutes later. Jake Brown is the luckiest skateboarder alive on this day. Cringe through the vid after the jump.
[Update: Added an alternate, extra gnarly camera angle.]
[Update: That was fast! The New York Times has article about Jake’s slam and the inherent dangers of the Mega Ramp. Requires free registration – or read it here]
Jake Brown slams to flat on the mega ramp.
There are other copies of this video out on YouTube, but this is the only one right now that has the alternate angle shots and the aftermath. The X Games own web site is missing the boat on this one. Hey, that’s Tony Hawk with the play by play. I like his awkward comment while they are waiting to see how Jake is.
This one is still live!
Alternate, extra gnarly camera angle.
ABC News segment
The New York Times has article about Jake’s slam and the inherent dangers of the Mega Ramp. Requires free registration
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 2 – At 62 feet tall and 293 feet long, the Mega Ramp is so massive that its events may be among the few spectacles held in the Staples Center for which the best seats are those farthest from the floor, in the arena’s upper deck. From any closer it is almost impossible to take in the full scope of the setup.
For the first time at the X Games, the Mega Ramp has been shoehorned into an arena for the skateboarding and BMX freestyle Big Air events. It had been set up outdoors since the Big Air discipline was unveiled at the Games three years ago.
Although its dimensions have remained roughly the same over the years, the ramp looms larger under the arena’s roof. Before the Games began Thursday with skateboard Big Air, several athletes said the ramp seemed to cast a bigger shadow, too, eclipsing them and their sports.
A ride on the Mega Ramp begins by taking the arena elevator to the top floor. From there, riders choose to plunge down either a 60- or 80-foot roll-in that resembles a ski-jumping ramp, which launches them over either a 50- or 70-foot gap.
After landing, they ride up a 27-foot tall quarterpipe ramp that sends them soaring as high as 50 feet. Their height is measured by a rotating lighted sign that looks like something borrowed from the Las Vegas strip.
Runs are judged on difficulty and execution of tricks done over both jumps.
The inherent danger associated with riding the ramp was on display during the finals Thursday night when the skateboarder Jake Brown fell more than 45 feet during his fifth and final run.
Brown was in first place at the time, but attempted a series of difficult tricks. After landing a 720 – two full rotations – he prepared for what looked like a 540 on the quarterpipe. As he reached the lip of the ramp, Brown appeared to lose control. His momentum carried him away from the wall of the ramp and over its flat section.
He fell about 45 feet, landing on his feet before falling to his back. Brown lay motionless on the ramp for several minutes while he was tended to by medical personnel.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Pierre-Luc Gagnon, who wound up finishing third in the event. “That was the gnarliest slam I’ve ever seen in my life. I thought he was dead.”
Much to everyone’s surprise, Brown walked off the ramp afterward with assistance and was seen talking.
Bob Burnquist was in second place at the time. After Brown walked off, Burnquist took the final run of the competition. He pulled a switch-stance backside ollie over the 70-foot gap. On the quarterpipe, he landed a switch-stance frontside 540. It turned out to be the winning run.
“It was really hard to go after that,” Burnquist said of Brown’s fall. “I thought he died or was paralyzed.”
Brown wound up finishing second and Gagnon, third.
It was the worst fall any of the skaters could remember since the Mega Ramp debuted at the X Games in 2004.
Burnquist became only the second skater to win a gold medal in skateboard Big Air. Danny Way had won the previous three but missed this year’s Games with a knee injury.
Without Way, Burnquist was the favorite. He built a Mega Ramp in his backyard last summer, the only permanent structure of its kind at the moment.
But not all athletes have embraced the Mega Ramp like Way and Burnquist. Shaun White, the 2006 Olympic gold medal winner in snowboarding and a professional skateboarder on the halfpipe, has no interest in riding the Mega Ramp.
“I just hate anything that can be defined as more spectacle than sport,” he said. “Just like any other athlete, it takes a certain skill to do our sport.”
The BMX freestyle rider Ryan Nyquist, a multiple medal winner at the X Games, was invited to compete in the BMX Big Air event Friday, but declined.
“As big as that ramp is and as fast as you’re going, it just doesn’t impress me all that much right now,” Nyquist said. “I feel like it’s more the ramp that’s on display than it is the riding on it.
Then there is the danger of flying so far and so high. Bucky Lasek said he was dreading riding the ramp because he had little time to practice because of a nagging knee injury that was aggravated by riding it.
Ever since the X Games debuted in 1995, action sports athletes have tried to shed the stigma that they are glorified stuntmen.
To some, the Mega Ramp with its combination of risk and spectacle reinforces unwanted stereotypes.
As Lasek summed it up, “Evel Knievel is going to be stoked.”
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