The slam heard ’round the world.

Jake Brown X-Games Slam

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


New York Times: Skateboarding’s Mega Ramp Is a Draw, but Also a Danger

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.”

28 Comments

  1. junior on August 3, 2007 - Reply

    HOLY SPICOLI!

  2. I was watching highlights (lowlights?) last night and I literally jumped out of my chair when I saw that he was bailing and coming away from the tranny over the flat, like I was going to catch him or something. He hit, and I could feel it over my entire body (does anyone else feel other people’s slams in their hips? Kind of a weird chill?). Anyway, I yelled “holy shit!” or something and my family came running in like it was 9/11, from the tone of my voice. They must have shown it 30 times from various angles. His shoes fly off every time. Weird.

    I have to say that I was as amazed by Burnquist dropping in and pulling the winning run after Brown’s slam as I was that Brown walked away. Focus? Yeah.

  3. orezona on August 3, 2007 - Reply

    Chris Miller had a good run…

  4. gnarliest slam ever.
    Bob’s run was pretty sick.

  5. I guess I meant to say, “Chris Miller’s status as having the worst slam ever caught on tape, is pretty much over now.” Too bad for jake he had to be the guy that beat him.

  6. Yeah, I was home alone and I started talking to the TV set when this happened. Odd that Tony Hawk missed an opportunity to comment on how atypical and significant the slam was, he kind of did I guess. The announcers didn’t say much, maybe that is more appropriate. As a doctor, I have been concerned about the possibility of a slow internal hemorrhage in him overnight, like from a lacerated spleen, etc. I’m sure he had a full body CT scan last night and today.

  7. You don’t say? Are you a Doctor? (oh yeah, you do say…)

  8. Damn, that was gnarly. Any word about internal injuries? You have to pop off the coping pretty far to miss a 20 foot radius transition.

  9. What are the dimensions on that Staples Center Mega Ramp? What’s the radius of that big quarter? How high was his take-off. How far did Jake Brown really fall if he was 15 feet above the coping and how far did he pull off to almost miss landing on transition?

  10. Conahan, is that the same feeling you got from that Salba Train incident almost a year ago?

    I saw Jake take a wicked fall at last years Dew Tour, it was so bad, hope nothing major occured over night, Brad does have a good point. Those guys are reaching new speeds.

  11. MC, I don’t think he intentionally “pulled off”. Hawk said, and video attests, that he never really sraightened out or got back in control after the gap jump. When I saw this on ESPN you could actually see him get speed wobbles on mid-tranny right before lift-off. This “jah-wobble” looks like it “pushed” him back out over the flat from the get go.

  12. Pulled off, pushed off, same difference. At some point he did something that caused him to move towards the flat, unless there was a heck of a breeze in the arena, or the coping really, really sticks out. You may be a physician, but you’re no physicist. Hah! I love heckling my friends in a public forum!

  13. Dudes,
    Jake is superhuman. To fall fall front the sky at fifty feet and not get seriously broke off and or die is beyond words. I was there, and saw and heard it in full surround sound. After the thud, there was a cold silence.

    I’m not sure how, but Jake came to and eventually got up to walk away from it.

    Here’s the latest on his condition.
    He is in the hospital with a contusion to his liver and also one of his lungs. He has had a full body scan and it revealed a small fracture on the top of his hand and one of his vertibrea. None will require surgery. It is a miracle that he didn’t suffer any major injuries and yeah, he definately took away Chris Miller’s title for heaviest slam.

    At the moment the slight internal bleeding has subsided and he will be held for observation in the hospital for another day or so. Tough as nails.

  14. hah, me too, randy. dude had obviously too much speed for a way too back stance he had after that 720 thingy. therefore he wasnt able direct his center of gravity (in human body in a lower part of upper body) upwards and instead of it got engaged in parabolical (as opossed to vertical in this situation) movement leading him 40 feet in the air. he didnt need to do anything except maybe re adjusting his centerweight. if human body on skateboard was perfectly centered he would have followed an upright trajectory drawn by shape of the ramp. this problematic is crucial to further development in robotics and makes humans still superior to machines which leads me to think that bob burnquist has to be bionic.

    or something like that. what do you got?

  15. Do they still have Wide World of Sports? That could be the new clip for the agony of defeat.

    Glad to hear he’s doing okay. That’s some manly shit. Thanks for the update Bryce.

  16. Estes: Conahan, is that the same feeling you got from that Salba Train incident almost a year ago?

    Well, only if he has no memory of the incident except for a big chunk of debt.

  17. Eric Cherry on August 3, 2007 - Reply

    Reading the comments here, what’s this Chris Miller slam I keep reading bout? Been skating for 26 years and this is the first I heard of it… details! Old men need gossip to stay young.

  18. BK – It’s good to hear he’s OK. I had a gut feeling (and common sense) that there had to be some kind of collateral damage. Heck, Grover wrecked his spleen and pissed blood after only falling about four feet. I’m glad they are on top of it. Can you imagine the scene at the hospital?

    What happened, he fell on a skateboard ramp?

    No, you don’t understand….

    Thanks for the update, and here’s to Jake!

    Eric – Chris Miller had a super gnarly slam in a contest at the combi pool at Upland(?) that sorta made it onto a video. Broke his ankle or leg, I can’t remember anymore, but it was the slam for quite a while. Readers, help me out here.

    Mark – Your comment (financial memory) sounds like a ghetto joke. You slammed so hard, your kids will be broke…

  19. wow! people were telling me about this all day. WOW!!!

  20. Eric: Chris Miller hung up a backside air in the combi at Upland and broke his collarbone. It can be seen towards the end of Future Primitive.

  21. P.S. Grover lacerated his right kidney, hence the blood in the urine. Now its chronic/recurrent. He didn’t injure his spleen.

  22. Dick cancer on August 4, 2007 - Reply

    That was GNARLY!!! I was there to and there were major gusts of wind in the Staples Center that pushed him out. And let’s do the math. 27′ ramp + 15′ over ramp = 42′ I don’t want to hear he was up 50 feet and fell. HE FLEW! INCREDIBLE, I hope I never do that from 12 feet. Be well Mr. Brown. I think it was a dick move for Bob to Jump after such a gnarly slam, F BOB. And how many skaters entered that compitition anyway??? Three, or was it four? I see MEGA Ramp being MEGA BIKE ramp comp and skating getting faded away like all the rest of other aspects of skating that used to be in the x games…

  23. When I rushed down to the staging area in the hallway adjacent to the bottom of the massive quarter pipe, the medics were running tests on Jake to check for additional signs of concussion and injury. It was then that Jake was asking everyone,”Did I make the 720?” Yes, Jake you did and then some.

    Don’t be surprised if you see a little Australian guy rolling around some of the parks in the Portland area come Dew Tour time.

  24. And I danced until my prostate fell out

  25. Bob said, he was gonna call his run off completely, but amazingly, he stood up and “hobbled” off. And I believe Jake would have WANTED him to take his run, no matter what… Nice step up by Bob to nut-up and stick his run after witnessing that.

    Just heard on the X-games, Jake broke a rib, lung contusion, and a bruised kidney, and whiplash – no doubt. YES, he wants to get back on the Mega. He plans to be at the vert contest tonight… so I’m sure they’ll talk to him if he makes it to the venue. The man is most definitely a machine.

  26. nweyesk8 on August 4, 2007 - Reply

    we coined a term today at newberg. instead of the old positve addage,”YOU CAN MAKE IT”, “dude, you can Jake it” — you can take that slam and walk away

  27. Now thats a good thing…….

  28. solboy on August 5, 2007 - Reply

    Coming soon from Protec; Parachutes.

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