Wardo Goes Gordo

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"I had my arms so wide in that thing."
— Oakley’s Chris Ward, on his 10-point barrel ride, the first in X-Games history.

The Playa Zicatela waves held their best shape of the week, making for some insane scores at X Games 13 and the first perfect 10 in X Surfing history.

A bit of heckling during competition never hurts, especially when rival teams still share beers and laughs afterwards. But when USA squared off against the world’s best, there was so much smack flying out of each dugout that the announcers and judges in the middle had to dodge a few verbal darts.

The X Games used to be a beef-settler between the East Coast and West Coast, as top pros groveled in Huntington Beach. But now it’s the best from Hawaii and Mainland USA versus the rest of the world, all thrown into the world’s heaviest beachbreaks. And aside from trash-talking, no one seems bummed.

"Phil Jackson picks and chooses when to get off the bench at NBA games. We don’t tell people how to act here," said event director Brad Gerlach. "None of these guys are going to talk smack on their own. By talking smack on a team you’re showing you have an emotional response to the other team."

No one was more vocal than USA Head Coach Matt Kechele (aka Heckley), although World Coach Martin "Pottz" Potter surely let his thoughts be known to all.

As both squads waxed up to take on the heaving Puerto Escondido barrels, the jabbering began even before the jerseys went on.

"The USA wanted to wait another day to get their asses kicked by us. The waves are really good. I mean it’s not like it’s raining and onshore," chirped Pottz in response to thoughts the waves might come up more on Friday. No sooner had he said it, than Kechele walked up, looked him in the eye and said, "You guys are keen to run it today, right? Let’s do this.”

Back in the USA camp, Coach Kechele shed some light on what to expect, "We’ve got a pretty solid lineup but the conditions don’t really favor anybody. They might favor us because of the (Clay) Marzo factor, and all the freaky shit he can do — plus Wardo."

The World Team won the coin toss and posted a decent first round score. Pottz, however, knew more was needed, "I’m quite happy with the 27 but it could be 30," he quipped.

The USA blazed through the bottom of the first without burning up any of their timeouts despite a tactical error by not subbing in Baron Knowlton’s monster barrel. The smack continued to flow as Kechele shouted, "Hey Pottz, we might just save all our timeouts for the last period." Kech then turned back and smirked, "Hopefully those guys realize we’re just warming up."

Period Two was the deciding heat. The wheels seemed to fall off for the World as broken boards and missed opportunities mounted. "It’s going to take a blinder of a next period to win this thing," said Pottz. "With the way the USA surfed in the first heat, it’s going to take some big scores."

Meanwhile, Team USA was just reaching their full stride. Shane Beschen was clocking multiple nine-point rides, Clay Marzo was sliding through hollow righthanders down the beach and then Oakley’s Chris Ward made the unthinkable happen – the first perfect-10 in X-Games history.

"It was really quiet for a while and I was sitting there for like 10 minutes. I was kind of inside and had to paddle out for it. I swung around and was pretty committed. It was just heads down from there on out," said Ward just after the wave of the day, a solid eight-foot spitting, breathing beast of a barrel. "I had my arms so wide in that thing."

Wardo had been down on the beach since 4:30 in the morning scoping the lineup and mentally preparing. He’s been coming here for 15 years and has a hearty appetite for meaty barrels. Even the World team coaches and athletes gave him a standing ovation for that one.

This stellar second period for the USA proved to be the highest point total in The Game format’s history, with 35 of a possible 40. After that one Coach Kechele simply smiled and said, "That was really fun to watch. Last year I had a nightmare coaching and, so far, this year has been a pleasure."

After that, it was gonna to take a miracle for the World to recover from this growing deficit. But they put it all on the line to keep thing close right down to the wire. The top of the third period saw substitution Jay Quinn bag a 9.5, Mick Campbell weaved through a 9.75 on his backhand, and Julian Wilson’s deep pit scored a 8.75. Still needing a big score, Mar Ohno threw himself over a giant ledge and caught the lip on the head, busting up his board as well as the World’s chances at a gold medal.

A somber Coach Pottz shook his head and said, "The boys stepped up but Team USA still only needs 14 points to win. We needed one more really good score. I think it’s a done deal."

Done after Clay Marzo, the USA’s youngest competitor at age 17, snagged yet another long right barrel to put USA over the small remaining point spread. And although he sensed it the entire time, Coach Kechele still smiled like a proud papa and said to his team, "Yeah, boys. Poolside! Poolside!" which is where the cold beers will meet the warm Mexican evening air in a toast to victory.

Team U.S.A.

Coach: Matt Kechele | Asst. Coach: Mike Parsons

Team U.S.A.

Shane Beschen
Rob Machado
Clay Marzo
Peter Mendia (Sub)
Baron Knowlton (Sub
Chris Ward

Game Total 81.75

Team World

Coach: Martin Potter | Asst. Coach: Barton Lynch

Team World

Mick Campbell
David Rutherford
Mar Ohno (Sub)
Jay Quinn
Rizal Tanjung (Sub)
Julian Wilson

Game Total 81

FOR MORE PHOTOS AND VIDEO OF THE 2007 X-GAMES, GO TO EXPN.COM

Author

Mike Cianciulli

Date

July 06, 2007