The X-Games finally invited surfing. What took you so long X-Game bros? Anyway, the event went down in Huntington Beach on Saturday, August 9th and it was awesome. If you don’t know how the game works, here’s a brief description.
Two teams of eight compete in four quarters with two heats in each quarter. Four surfers from the same team go out at a time with seventeen to eighteen minutes in each heat. The heat score is compiled from the top two waves of each guy. Each team has three time outs per half of, that can only be called by the head coach. The visiting team goes out first and the home team gets the last at-bats.
Get it? You will, just think basketball. In XGames IX, the teams consisted of East Coast and West Coast rippers plus two wildcards each. The East Coast team was solid with Kelly Slater, Damien Hobgood, Cory and Shea Lopez, Aaron Cormican, Ben Bourgeois, and wildcards, Taj Burrow and Shane Dorian—what a line-up! A lot of people were placing bets on the East Coast squad from the start, but I said, take it easy, and announced the West Coast. Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Dane Reynolds, Pat O, Shane Beschen, wildcard Kalani Robb, Tim Curran, and Bobby Martinez.
The surfers were announced like they were the L.A. Lakers and shit. All coming out to music. It gave me chills because it made me feel like surfing was getting the respect it desereved. The feeling on the beach when Jason Belt of Red West sang the National Anthem was electric.
As the game began, the Easy Coast showed it’s intentions of winning early by ripping their first heat in the first quarter. The best part of the day was hearing all the trash talk between the benches. Kelly was spewing a constant flow of shit talk toward the West Coast.
I’d give you a play by play of the rest of the day but it was just too exciting to put in words. Seriously, everyone on the beach was on their feet screaming when the fourth quarter rolled around. The East held a small lead into the bottom of the fourth when Rob, Pat O, Kalani, and Bobby went out to and almost closed the gap! Rob even blasted a frontside air. It was surreal. The feeling was like an NBA final game and Iverson is driving to the basket with a second left, does he make the shot? No, he misses, the East wins!
Just a few stats to make you bummed that you weren’t there:
There were more cameras at the beach than there were covering the NCAA final four. The Goodyear Blimp showed up and filmed all the heats. There was a zip-line camera that raced above the surfers as they ripped. 25,000 people showed up. Mike Morgan and Chris Cote announced the event. Chris was amazing, handsome, smart, funny, and he also wrote this shit. Jody Nelson was the field announcer and was looking hot all day. The television crew was GT and Cameron along with Sal and Peter King.
Overall, the event was the best contest I’ve ever seen. By far the most exciting way to watch surfing,. Just wait till the Game hits Pipeline!
The highest score of the day went to Dane Reynolds for a huge frontside air.
Aaron Cormican should get the MVP for the east coast team.
Bench warmers for both teams were Mike Losness and Nate Yeomans for the West. Dean Randazzo and Asher Nolan for the East.
The coaches were Mike Parsons, Dino Andino, and Chris Drummy for the west. Matt Kechele, Todd Morcom, Todd Kline for the East.
Next time the Game comes to town don’t miss it. You already screwed yourself if you missed this one.
The East Coast – West Coast rivalry is alive and well and the trash talking started first thing in the morning with East Coast team member Slater asking the West’s Rob Machado, “Hey Rob, do you guys just want to forfeit now and save yourselves the trouble?” Rob laughed, answering, “We’ll see, bro.”
The teams were announced by X Games mainstay Sal Masakela. It was classic to hear surfers announced like they were the LL.A. Lakers coming out onto the floor of The Staples center; “Ladies and gentlemen. The West Coast team!”
Jason Belt of the band The Red West sang the Star Spangled Banner just before the referee blew his whistle and yelled, “Game on!”
The visiting East Coast team surfed first, with the formidable foursome of Shea Lopez, Aaron Cormican, Ben Bourgeois and Damien Hobgood posting a combined score of 46.04. The West Coach bench looked nervous, but the East Coast bench was screaming with every wave.
The West Coast surfed next. The scores were adding up slowly, but the waves just weren’t cooperating, leaving the West Coast with a poor start.
The trash talk started getting louder as the two teams battled in the second quarter. “Why don’t you put some rails on that board and do a turn,” yelled Taylor Knox, as Damien Hobgood jogged by the West Coast bench.
Rob Machado blasts a frontside air during the final heat. If you look really close, you can see the spray-painted stencil of the outline of California on the bottom of his board.
The second four-man team for the East Coast was the team to watch, with six-time world champ Kelly Slater, Cory Lopez, and two wildcards, Taj Burrow and Shane Dorian. Taj was on fire, blasting air after air on each wave.
The next four surfers for the West Coast were Rob Machado, Pat O’Connell, Tim Curran and wildcard Kalani Robb. Kalani started off the heat with a banger of a wave. He slashed it five times off the top and ended with a quick tailslide on the inside. Curran spun a huge frontside 360 air, landing perfectly.
In the second half, the East Coast team went to work, posting solid scores. Aaron Cormican blasted a big-ass frontside 360 air on a wave that allowed three more hits for him on the inside. He was awarded a 9.0 and put the East Coast in a comfortable lead.
The West Coast felt the pressure as the bottom of the third brought hardly any waves. They were stressing until a good set came in and each team member posted high scores including the highest score of the day by the youngest competitor, Dane Reynolds, who received a 9.07 for the biggest air of the day, a frontside grab five-foot air with a perfect landing.
The West Coast narrowed the gap to 40 points when the East came out for their final heat. Kelly Slater scored two 7’s in the last few minutes of the heat and Taj Burrow proved to be the best wildcard draw the East Coast could’ve asked for. Cory Lopez, who won the U.S. Open last weekend, proved his worth by thrashing two lefts for a 7 and a 6.
At this point, the 25,000 plus in attendance were on their feet. The West Coast had one final chance to score. Their all-star team of Rob Machado, Tim Curran, Kalani Robb and Pat O’Connell hit the water with fire in their hearts. Once again, the ocean didn’t quite cooperate until the last few minutes.