2007 Vans Invitational - What You May Have MissedAug 20 2007 / Portland, OR
SWEEP? WHAT SWEEP?
Five out of six athletes won the first two Dew Tour stops and the only one who didn't repeat last month was Jamie Bestwick, who was stunned in BMX Vert after weather delays. Since Bestwick is the only athlete in Dew Tour history to win four contests in a row during a single season (five in a row from the '06-'07 seasons) it wasn't a stretch to think others would have trouble reaching the mark
The first one to stumble was a big one. Ryan Sheckler lost in skate park to Greg Lutzka and it came after Sheckler dominated the initial runs and won the first jam session. A fall that might have broken his elbow (he'll get it X-rayed back in California) didn't help either.
The second to be stopped was less of a surprise. Ryan Nyquist has won the first two BMX dirt contests but the competition was crazy good. With a different course design it was more likely someone would capitalize but the surprise was who did -- Dennis Enarson, all of 16-years-old, dominated the comp and won his first Dew Tour event.
In BMX Park, Daniel Dhers has seemed unbeatable and after winning at X Games there was no reason to think he couldn't keep it up. But Mike Spinner had a different idea -- last year in Portland he was the first person ever to land the 720 Tailwhip in competition at the Free Flow Tour finals (which took place at the same time as the Vans Invitationa). This year he pulled the 1080 (which he landed earlier this year in New Zealand) and it got him first place. Dhers tried hard to overcome it but a nasty fall secured Spinner his first Dew Tour win.
The last repeat champ to see his chance at a sweep go away was Nate Adams, who lost to Adam Jones at X Games two weeks ago and lost to him again in the FMX Finals on Sunday. Jones was a little more exciting than Adams, who had a solid run good enough to win in most cases -- just not this one. Adams still has a strong lead in the Dew Cup race, but he will face strong competition from both Mike Mason (who finished third) and Jones the rest of the season. It must be noted that Adams won in Cleveland last month when the FMX Finals were canceled due to weather issues -- meaning the prelims counted as the finals...
OH, THAT SWEEP
But not all streaks were broken. Shaun White came out in his second of three runs in Skate Vert and nailed it, leaving the rest of the field battling for second-place. White may put on a "Golly! I actually won? I'm so surprised!" act after each of his wins, but one telling comment in his interview after winning shows that he knows exactly how good he is.
"Pierre gave me a hard time up there... He's a strong skater. I think Pierre and myself are battling that way harder than Bucky and myself. I think times have changed and Pierre, he's an amazing skater. He's the one I'm looking at to step it up. Not putting Bucky down..."
FYI Shaun, when you say you're not putting someone down, usually you are. The gauntlet's been thrown for Mr. Lasek, the two-time defending Dew Cup champ. He's not going to win it this year -- it's out of reach after a ninth-place finish this weekend -- but maybe he can show he's still a player.
Worth noting were the perfect conditions in Portland -- helped by the fact that all but one event (skate park) were held inside -- that includes FMX. That made for a delightfully delay-free event with TV and Internet viewers able to watch everything on time (except for BMX Dirt, which unfortunately wasn't given much time despite BMX Vert getting airplay on both NBC and USA).
BMX, THE MOST EXCITING SPORT IN THE WORLD?
While watching the Skate Park and Skate Vert Finals, and even the FMX finals for that matter, there was never a moment where the announcer jumped out of his chair and said "WHOA! That's the first time that's ever been done!" Not so for BMX Park and Dirt (and even Vert, to a degree). BMX Park featured so many crazy tricks that even Jamie Bestwick, who was co-announcing, couldn't keep up. Mike Spinner's 1080 put a cap on it all, but moves by Dave Mirra and Daniel Dhers had everyone buzzing. The same could be said for in Dirt, where so many crazy tricks went down that it was impossible to keep up. Even Vert has its share of innovation, with Bestwick, Zack Warden, Kevin Robinson and Simon Tabron pulling out variations and new tricks at almost every event.
Sure, FMX has some new tricks (Jones' Shaolin bar hop backflip as an example) but they lack the flair and intimacy of BMX. And as far as skate, the Park course doesn't normally allow for that many exciting tricks, especially if the goal is to win (that takes some focus and consistency), and in Vert Shaun White pulling the 1080 is the only "big" new thing on the horizon and he's not there yet. When he lands that, it will be a huge moment, but until them, BMX is the sport to watch for innovation.
Speaking of which...
BMX DIRT, WE HARDLY KNEW YOU!
Coming on the heels of X Games 13, which canceled BMX Dirt much to the chagrin of just about everyone ("Ridiculous" was one way Morgan Wade described it -- the others can't be printed on a family website), what better time to highlight the sport than now? Sure, there's not enough time to show all the sports on TV, but that's what webcasts are for (like FMX).
What was missed? Only "a contest for the history books" as described by the Dew Tour. Ah well, it was great reading about it, and that 45 second video clip sure captured every crazy trick that was unleashed.
Ah well, Dirt will be back on TV soon enough...
JAKE BROWN COMING SOON?
Jake Brown wasn't able to skate but he was a constant fixture at the Dew Tour and he revealed that he hopes that he will be able to skate at the PlayStation Pro, the last stop on this season's Dew Tour. While he is unlikely to make a big impact at his first competition back, expect the applause he receives to rival Shaun White's -- and that's a lot of applause.
ALL IN ALL
The Vans Invitational seemed to mark a change in this season's tour. After issues with weather the first two stops and a general lack of surprises, this event featured some genuine excitement and the emergence of some new faces in a big way. Salt Lake City, the third new city on the tour, will have to work hard to keep up the pace when the Toyota Challenge comes barrelling into town on Sept. 20.
- Greg Baerg