Art and Action Sports - Oakley Athletes Shine at X Games Barcelona

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New York is lying. It isn’t the quintessential “city that never sleeps.” Really, that title should belong to Barcelona. Life on the Ramblas is never-ending; the clubs in the city seem to never close; the architectural wonders, the sight-seeing opportunities, the various means of entertainment are limitless. That cocktail of elements made the city the perfect first European host for an event that seems to consume every bit of energy that can be packed into a four-day window: Summer X Games.

Located on the same hill where sporting dreams were fulfilled and shattered in 1992, Barcelona’s Montjuïc plaza, the dreams of dozens of action sports athletes faced a similar fate. In skateboarding, Bob Burnquist reached an historic marker in his medal count while Curren Caples made a first addition to his own. Ryan Sheckler was skating like the Sheckler of old, before another injury struck; the same went for Chase Hawk, who was prepared to shine in BMX Park, only to have a nagging ankle injury force him out of the event. Ronnie Renner proved that he’s the man in Step Up, while Leticia Bufoni showed that she’s the woman when it comes to putting together video parts. And as with anywhere where Global X Games heads, there were variables, and in Barcelona, the primary variable was the one thing that shouldn’t have been an issue in the city that’s always sunny – it rained. A lot.

The athletes made due, and massive crowds that made the hike to the top of the hill enjoyed every moment.

Atop the Big Air MegaRamp on Day 2, inside the Palau Sant Jordi indoor arena, the tension is thick, the anticipation growing. Elliot Sloan is closely analyzing the way his board roles across the ground. Jake Brown is hocking loggies, creating a small puddle near some electrical wires. The young guys mostly race up the elevator, hop up on the starting ramp, just ready to drop. Bob Burnquist, the reigning three-time champ of the event, is mostly quiet and focused and very, very sweaty. He checks and rechecks his board: the wheel bearings, the way it rolls; the rails and the trucks. Burnquist is the oldest of the six competing skaters, but so far, no one has been able to steal his crown. But the sport is constantly progressing, and the young guys are fighting for superiority. Mitchie Brusco, just 16, lands his first 1080 on the quarterpipe; 12-year-old Tom Schaar lands a 900.

The leaderboard shuffles constantly, but after Burnquist lands a switch backside 180 ollie over the gap and 720 Indy grab on the quarterpipe, the fourth consecutive Gold Medal in the event is his. It isn’t until that winning run, that the emotion spills out. With all the medals he’s won, Burnquist had to be reminded that another feat had been reached on this night: tying BMX legend Dave Mirra’s all-time medal count record of 24 medals.

“Oh man, that’s right, I wasn’t even keeping count,” he said, giving a sideways smile. “I just feel blessed to, first, be healthy to skate, just to compete, but with the stacked field and the level that’s going on right now, I just can’t believe it. Just getting on the podium would have been awesome, but to win … I mean, come on: 1080s, 900s, tail 7s to tail 5s, the combos that are going down are just unreal.”

Burnquist is one of four athletes who has competed at every X Games since 1995. Rune Glifberg is another of those four X Games lifers. And while Glifberg didn’t manage to win another medal in Barcelona (he has 12 in his trophy case), he was witness to the next generation of uber-talented park riders that he influenced – specifically the reigning champ, Brazilian Pedro Barros, and 17-year-old Curren Caples, who was a first-time medal winner in Spain and an Oakley teammate.

“He’s just fun to watch,” Gliberg said of Caples. “He’s got style in everything he does, from his rail tricks to his airs to his flip tricks. All of it. I just did a trip with him to Australia and was just blown away by how talented the kid is, so it was rad to see him win a medal here in Barcelona.”

In Enduro X, Spanaird Laia Sanz proved that her win in Foz do Iguacu was no fluke, winning her second consecutive Gold ahead of Maria Forsberg. In Freestyle, weather again proved a hindrance, forcing the competition to be cancelled, but Dany Torres and Thomas Pages and the other riders still put on a show for the packed Estadio Olimpic audience, though in exhibition format.

Despite the rough weather, the injuries and the allure of the nightlife, in total, six medals were won by Oakley athletes. At weeks’ end, competitors couldn’t stop raving about the city, the performances and the Sangria, now we’ll see if Munich can follow up that act.