Mo’ Mega Blues

Stakes is high

Danny Way loves spectacle. He sails over ancient structures and leaps from giant guitars, going so far as to revive the somewhat hilarious rocket air, all for our amusement and the pursuit of world records. Sometimes these things come at a price, including but not limited to fractured ankles, broken backs and 40-foot free falls. But on the other side of that Great Wall lies fame, lucrative energy drink endorsement deals and oodles of prize money.

No fear, though. Fame, sponsorship and wads of dough can still be had if the crash itself is enough of a spectacle, as giggly Australian Jake Brown proved on Larry King and elsewhere during his post-Mega fall recovery tour . And even if sponsors aren’t cutting photo incentive checks every time their logo flashes across the screen on some pro’s shirt as he careens toward the deck, Danny Way’s not tripping — as he notes in the Wall Street Journal last week, each replay of Jake Brown’s tooth-rattling slam is all for the greater good:

I think it’s great that they exploit the slams. That’s the biggest part of people understanding the seriousness of what we do. It’s unfortunate the person that slams has to go through that experience and deal with the repercussions of it. But Jake [Brown], for example, he did so much for the Mega event. They emphasized the slam, but that also brought so much of a focus to our event. It just gives everyone that much more opportunity and makes it that much more exciting. God forbid someone should get hurt, but sometimes it’s good to have things put in perspective. If we’re going to create an event for the public, the goal is to have people on the edge of their seats biting their nails not knowing what’s going to happen next.

God forbid it happens, but it’s possible for somebody to get really, really hurt. It’s the same thing with motocross. Freestyle moto, guys doing double flips and front flips and stuff, that stuff’s deadly, too. That’s why people come to watch it.

Interesting point, and it goes back to what’s kept vert skating on life support for the last ten years – your average Gravity Games-watching armchair gaper gets a lot more out of seeing Lincoln Uyeda blast 10-foot airs, as opposed to P-Rod cracking a nollie heelflip backside tailslide across a step-up ledge or whatever. With the mega-ramp Danny Way has upped the ante a few hundred feet in terms of hangtime, and personal peril.

The WSJ also asks Way whether he believes the mega-ramp is viable as a new skateboarding discipline (to chance an oxymoron), and he dodges, sort of, noting the growing number of pros taking the mega plunge. But if anything the rise of the mega-ramp widens the gap between your average kid kickflipping in the driveway and what seems destined to become skating’s version of underwater lion-taming, or something.

Let us pause for a moment and pour one out for all the departed tamers who were mauled and then drowned.

Anyway, for years vert skating has been moving toward a weird sort of commercial backwater, seeming to exist almost solely on ESPN, while half the vert pros suit up in body armor to slay the mega dragon and the other half shuffle off to work on their beer guts with the backyard bowl contingent. The way things are going now, vert’s TV career seems destined to be eclipsed by the spectacle of the mega monster, just months after receiving a stay of execution when the X-Games stood ready to bump it from the lineup.

So: the number of vert pros dwindling, cities building concrete parks as opposed to vert ramps, less on-screen time… will kids even know what a vert ramp is in another five years? Before I tread too far onto Vert Is Dead’s turf I’ll do that thing where I stand in a darkened room with a lighter and my eyes cast upward, fumbling with my mouse to click on the Tampa Am vert finals from earlier this year. Kids are always up for unwinnable causes right? I mean when Danny Way is 360-flip k-grinding a 20-foot vert wall and Bob Burnquist is jumping into the Grand Canyon, will anyone be left to notice when somebody lands, say, a varial 900?

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7 Responses to “Mo’ Mega Blues”

  1. Vitis Says:

    The secular world is always entertained by any sort of 900.

  2. mort goldman Says:

    canonball 900!

  3. Watson Says:

    Rocket air backflip!!!!! Wait……

  4. Neal Hendrix Says:

    Entertaining post, but wanted to point out a couple of factual inaccuracies. Obviously, the marketing box that vert skating fits in has drastically changed over the last 15 years, but to pretend that vert skating only exists on ESPN is a bit of a stretch. Secondly, you might not of heard of them yet, but there is a generation of super talented vert skaters that will definitely be able to keep the flame alive. Alex Perelson, Adam Taylor, Josh Stafford, Elliot Sloan and others have recently joined the pro ranks, and Pedro Barros, Zach Miller, and Sam Beckett are not too far behind. Perelson for one, is as talented as any skateboarder that has ever stepped on a transition at age 17, including the legends. The post makes it sound as if all the pro vert skaters are at home crying in their beer’s, while the truth is there are a lot of cool opportunities out there. Maybe the opportunities are different than the brand of skateboarding you subscribe to, but I would argue it’s still a pretty damn cool deal if you can get it. Last weekend a bunch of us got flown to Berlin for the weekend, got taken care of, had a bunch of fun, and skated a contest. Tomorrow a few of us are flying to Brazil to do a demo this weekend for about 25,000 people that are coming out to see some skateboarding. I grew up in the sticks on the east coast, skating crap in my friends driveways and backyards and call me crazy but flying around the world skating perfect vert ramps sounds alright. Vert skating is never going to be what it was when we first picked up a skateboard, but that is fine, skateboard is huge, it is diverse and I don’t think that vert skating is just going to disappear anytime soon. Point being, you make it sound as if we are all in a grave with dirt being thrown on us, when in fact we are enjoying the opportunities that come our way, and when the time comes we will gladly pass the torch to the young dudes.

    Old vert dude
    Neal Hendrix

  5. Rocuronium Says:

    Will the mega-ramp be the easiest “discipline” to “score” at the Olympics?
    Will pioneers like DWay and AMac be Olympic judges far into its future?
    Did ski jumping start out this way too?
    Will the USA’s dominance in Mega Ramping be threatened by public ramps built in more progressive countries?
    Will some snowboarder pros impinge onto this skate-turf ala flying tomato because of the obvious crossover skills?

    Just wondering?

  6. tropiz Says:

    heh neal hendrix

  7. theProgram Says:

    second’d tropxz.

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