X Games and Vert Skateboarding

On April 3rd,2008  ESPN announced it would be ending its Vert skateboarding contest for the X Games.

This is one of the X Games longest running events and has naturally caused a great deal of controversy throughout the extreme sports world. It was during the vert skating that the world witnessed Tony Hawks mind blowing 900,pushing the bounds of skateboarding and physics Tony Hawk has picked up 16 gold medals since 1995 in the vert section and it’s been a staple for many other pros like Andy Macdonald and Pierre Luc Gagnon, both multiple gold medal winners.

The X-Games vert contest helped push skateboarding into the mainstream in the late 90s and also paved the way for things to come in the world of the X-Games and extreme sports.

But as early as 2000 ratings for the vert contests have have gone down and ratings have dropped significantly every year over the last 4 years. Sponsors such as Red Bull and Vans have pulled out and ESPN fully stand behind their choice to replace it with a “super park” saying it was verts time to go.

The Call To Save Vert…

A lot of industry pros are standing up for X Games vert.

Skaters like Andy Macdonald are pushing to keep it and have cited the events format as a possible cause in the down slide of ratings. Macdonald has said the contests needs more skating action to keep the interest peaked and to keep the entire thing feeling less like a “Golf game” with far too many breaks in the action.

Many skaters and fans alike want to keep the event around and are hoping to get bigger ramp contests involving new super ramps such as the “Mega Ramp”. Many fear without the support of the X Games this evolution of Vert skating will be stunted. Along with the progression of vert only tricks and the sport as a whole.

Time to go?…

Other Skaters and industry leaders agree with ESPN, even if it’s with a heavy heart. Some see the decision as merely an attempt to stay ahead of the curve and the introduction on the super park as a way to push the limits of skateboarding and skate contests. For now the X Games will have to wait and see if the super park pays off and is a positive influence on the sport.

The future of vert is unknown at this point. If this is another mini death for the sport it wont be the 1st.Vert has been forced underground a number of times over past decades. There has been a decline in vert ramps at parks and many feel it will be going back to private warehouses and backyards.