X Games Find Right Wavelength to Start

The X Games began Tuesday, two days earlier than the other competition, in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, where surfers from the East and West coasts of the United States clashed on something heretofore foreign to participants -- waves.

Team East Coast beat Team West Coast for the third consecutive year but it was Team ESPN cheering because it finally had some compelling footage.

The surfing competition was moved this year from Huntington Beach Pier -- where it was held the last two years in tiny, wind-blown slop -- to Puerto Escondido, where large, clean waves are almost a certainty.

“We were happy with the bigger surf,” said Todd Cline, assistant coach for the East. “We’re known for the smaller waves, but this was a great way to showcase that the boys from the East ... can get top scores on the bigger waves.”


C.J. and Damien Hobgood, and Shea and Cory Lopez, all from Florida, were among the notable stars for the East, which built a 10-point halftime lead and held on for a 100.75-96.50 triumph in front of nearly 2,000 at a break sometimes referred to as the Mexican Pipeline.

The X Games surfing event features a format in which teams trade off in the lineup, surfing in either the top or bottom half of each quarter. Four players per quarter are judged on individual waves, their highest single waves counting toward the final score.

Team West Coast, behind the surfing of San Clemente’s Pat O’Connell and Chris Ward, and Cardiff’s Rob Machado, closed the gap in the third quarter but a score of 8.5 in the top of the fourth by Jamie O’Brien, later voted most valuable player, helped give the East an edge it would not relinquish.