Skateboarding’s portion of X Games Austin 2016 kicked off Friday afternoon with the Skate Vert competition. Due to the absence of longtime competitor Andy Macdonald and an injury to defending gold medalist Pierre-Luc Gagnon, the starting field skewed noticeably towards the younger side, providing a breath of fresh air into the showdown. Britain’s Sam Beckett pulled in the gold medal with a high-flying and technical run. Moto Shibata won the silver medal, becoming the first Japanese medalist in X Games skateboarding history with a throwback run filled with many airs made popular back in the early days of vert. 2014 Vert gold medalist Jimmy Wilkins pulled in the bronze medal this time around. All in all, the combined age of Becket (24), Shibata (20), and Wilkins (22), was the youngest ever since the first year of X games Vert in 1995.
Saturday night’s Monster Energy Men’s Skateboard final provided a showdown between some of the weekend’s largest names and the weekend’s worst weather. Right as the final was about to begin, a torrential rainstorm hit the Circuit of the Americas, causing a two-hour rain delay. After the area had been dried, Ryan Decenzo pulled out the narrowest of victories, winning his fifth career X Games medal and his first ever Gold in the Street event. It was quite a worthy victory for Decenzo, whose shirtless form could be seen practicing on the course for days leading up to the final. Decenzo’s run of 87.33 was just enough to win the gold ahead of four-time defending gold medalist Nyjah Huston’s final run of an 87.00. Huston’s usual combination of big air and technical wizardry was on display, but quite unusually he fell on his first two runs. Being the last competitor to ride the stage was then set for Nyjah to steal gold from Decenzo with a perfect run, which he almost pulled off. Ishod Wair delivered his career best X Games performance, finishing barely behind Decenzo and Huston with a run of 86.66 to win his first career medal. Crowd favorite Ryan Sheckler had all the moves to land on the podium, but couldn’t put them all together in a single run, despite the motivational cries of “Marry me, Ryan!” emanating from his fans.
The weekend’s last skateboarding discipline was Skate Park, which was won by by Pedro Barros, who has never finished lower than silver in his X Games park career with five gold medals. As he commented to B-Sides after the competition, the frequent rain all weekend had cancelled many of the practices, forcing the riders to improvise as they rode in the final round. Nevertheless, Barros was by far the highest flying of the athletes, using his flawless form to blast larger tricks than anyone else. Fresh off competing in Skate Street the previous night, San Diego native Curren Caples used his surfing background to grab the silver medal, flowing through the course with immense grace and ease. Finishing with the bronze medal was Chris Russell, his first career X Games medal.
Unfortunately due to weather, fan-favorite Skateboard Big Air could not be completed on any of the days, first due to rain and later due to heavy winds. However, watching the workers slide down the ramp with towels to dry the surface at least provided some amusement to the spectators gathered to watch.
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BONUS: Check out the photos from the blink-182 set during X Games 2016!
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