Brown shows big-air craft

Two years ago at the X Games, Jake Brown made headlines by becoming the first skateboarder to free-fall from 46 feet -- and live to tell about it.

On Thursday night during the same big-air competition at Staples Center, the diminutive skateboarder from Oceanside proved that lack of confidence is no issue.

Brown, 34, edged two-time gold medalist Bob Burnquist to win his first gold medal at an X Games. He and Burnquist posted best scores of 94.00, but Brown also had a second-best run of 91.33, to Burnquist’s 91.00, and won via tiebreaker in the five-run format.

“I just want to thank the X Games for giving this platform for all the athletes to kind of be showcased, and thank all the athletes as well for stepping up and making this thing possible,” said Brown, who is not usually so talkative.

Brown’s top run included a backside ollie 360 (no-handed) over the 70-foot gap and a backside 540 nearly 21 feet above the 27-foot quarterpipe wall.


That placed him at about the same height from which, in 2007, he drifted out over the flat and fell with such a forceful thud that both shoes blasted from his feet on impact.

He walked off on his own power but was rushed to the hospital, where his injuries included a bleeding liver, broken vertebrae, bruised lung and broken wrist.

Asked how long it took to regain his confidence, Brown, who won the bronze last year with a more cautious performance, quipped: “About a day.”

No ambulance required, thankfully

Brown spent three days in a hospital after his accident on the mega-ramp.

Danny Way, who was injured and did not compete Thursday, last year spent one night in a hospital after his dramatic wipeout.

Thursday’s competition lacked any serious falls and that -- though this sounds macabre -- seemed to take something from the event.

Not as far as the athletes were concerned, though. Said Rob Loriface, who won the bronze:

“That was the best part of this whole contest: that everyone’s sitting here and can talk about it, and no one’s at the hospital.”

Two winners for the price of one

Ricky Carmichael and Ronnie Renner both won gold medals in the moto X step-up competition.

The reason: Carmichael was injured on his third try at 35 feet in what is essentially a high-jump competition, after Renner had missed on his third try.

Carmichael was not seriously hurt but could not continue, so both riders got the top medals.

Said Renner: “There’s not a worse guy to go co-gold medal with than Ricky Carmichael. If he’s the greatest of all time, can I at least be the goodest?”

The X kid factor

The life of an X Games athlete is precarious and the risks are great. Here are a few comments from athletes regarding their children:

* Kevin Robinson, BMX vert and big air: “I had my 32nd surgery four weeks ago and I’m still going. I would rather they play golf, but if I tell my son no, I’d be contradicting my whole life.”

* Burnquist, skateboard vert and big air: “I have three girls. When I go home I’m in princess and fairyland, and then I go out to the mega-ramp and say, ‘I’ve got to learn something.’ ”

* Mat “The Condor” Hoffman, BMX vert legend, on whether his kids are encouraged to follow in his footsteps: “I’d like them to try painting or playing music and maybe puppet shows.”

Praising Pastrana

Perhaps the biggest buzz around the X Games focuses on tonight’s moto X best trick competition and Travis Pastrana, who reportedly will attempt a no-handed back flip while spinning a 360.

Says supercross star James Stewart, who is making his X Games debut and competing in moto X best whip, supermoto and super X:

“Travis is a freak. If that guy just jumps the ramp it’s cooler than anyone else jumping anything. I can out-whip him and beat him around the track, but besides that the guy will kill me at everything else.”

These women can skate

Lyn-z Adams Hawkins was one of three women sticking kick-flip indy tricks -- testament to the progression in women’s vert skateboarding -- and the Cardiff athlete emerged with a gold medal, her third in the X Games.

Adams Hawkins also impressed the judges with her multiple McTwist attempts during the jam session.

“I’m not even going to be able to snowboard this winter, because I’m going to have to skateboard all year so I can stick even more tricks next year at X Games’ sweet 16,” she said.

Marisa Dal Santo won the street competition for the second time in three years.