Skateboard Vert saved the best for last.
Fourteen-time medalist Pierre-Luc Gagnon and X Games icon Shaun White showed an expanded field of 20 skaters how it’s done when they finally got their turns as the last and second-to-last skaters in the elimination round of the Skateboard Vert competition.
White exploded down the ramp and immediately got more air than any of the previous 18 skaters, putting together a nearly flawless run, good enough for 84.66 points and second place out of the gate. Not to be outdone, Gagnon responded with a technically sound run for 82.66 points to immediately crack the top 10. Then they both stepped it up another notch during their next run –- White stealing first with more aerial moves for 86.33 points, and Gagnon posting an even better 87.00 without flinching.
The ease with which the top two skaters glided through their routines was a sharp contrast to the rest of the field, which largely could not stay on their skateboards for the full 30 seconds. At least half the runs ended with crashes and low scores.
But veterans Bob Burnquist and Bucky Lasek survived, finishing fifth and seventh respectively. They will both compete in Round One of the Vert competition later tonight.
Skateboard Vert qualifiers
Pierre-Luc Gagnon: 87.00
Shaun White: 86.33
Alex Perelson: 85.33
Sandro Dias: 84.00
Bob Burnquist: 83.33
Adam Taylor: 83.33
Bucky Lasek: 82.66
Andy Macdonald: 81.66
Elliot Sloan: 81.66
Paul-Luc Ronchetti: 79.33
Photo: Shaun White warms up before the Skateboard Vert elimination round on Saturday at the Nokia Theater. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times