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Montreal's Gagnon wins skateboard gold at X Games

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The Canadian Press
8/2/2009 1:54:16 AM
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CARSON, Calif. -- Canadian Pierre-Luc Gagnon's superstition may have been the extra motivation needed for him to capture gold in Skateboard Vert on Saturday at the 2009 X Games.

"I'm pretty superstitious," the Montreal native said. "I had 13 X Games medals and was like, 'Hopefully I can get one more.' This year was the year, and I just wanted to get away from the number 13."

Gagnon ended with a score of 93 to outlast a pair of veterans in a new format that featured a 12-minute running clock with each skater's two best runs counting toward their final score.

Bucky Lasek was runner-up with a score of 91 and Andy McDonald, of San Diego, was third with an 84.

Gagnon and Lasek were tied entering the latter portion of the contest before Gagnon came through with a difference-making run that featured a move called a "trey flip fakie" in which the board both flips and rotates 360 degrees.

"I just kinda freestyled it after that, it wasn't really a planned run," Gagnon said.

It's the fourth X Games vert title for Gagnon, who also won in 2002, 2005 and 2008.

Elsewhere, in her much-anticipated X Games debut, motocross teen sensation Ashley Fiolek didn't disappoint.

Fiolek, who has been deaf since birth, captured first place in Women's Moto X Super X.

"X Games are a big deal for women and anyone in action sports," said Fiolek through her translator and father Jim. "So to come here and do this well, I'm very excited."

The 18-year-old Fiolek's debut was delayed after an injury forced her to withdraw from last year's games. She made up for it with a strong performance in what was the highest billing a women's X Games event has received on ESPN.

"Last year I was really bummed, I wanted to come here and do good," Fiolek said. "This year I was really motivated. I came out here and had a great race."

After not getting out of the gate particularly well, Fiolek worked her way into second place. She spent the remainder of the race locked in a matchup with Jessica Patterson for the top spot.

On the second turn of the final lap, she made her move, overtaking her competitor and not looking back. Fiolek crossed the finish line in 372.47 with her left fist pumping through the air.

"I knew it was white flag, I knew I had to hurry," Fiolek said. "I got out front and just wanted to stay steady."

Patterson came across in 375.83 and Elizabeth Bash finished third at 397.32.

On the men's side, Josh Hansen used a crowd-pleasing tailwhip across the finish line on the way to an eight-second victory.

The race lacked a bit of lustre as star rider James Stewart was previously scheduled to make his first appearance at the games but was unable to compete after suffering a shoulder injury while practising for Moto X Super Moto on Thursday.

Hansen finished in a time of 16:49.871 with his nearest counterpart, Justin Brayton, coming in at 16:58.138, while Kevin Windham was third.

In freestyle motocross, on a day dedicated to a former rider, a new X Games champion was crowned when Blake Williams finished first in Moto X Freestyle.

"It's pretty unpredictable," said Williams of the event's format. "Plus, I crashed and I could still make up for it."

Jeremy Lusk, the defending Freestyle Moto X who died in February after sustaining head injuries during a contest in Costa Rica, was remembered earlier in the afternoon at Home Depot Center in a tribute that included words of remembrance from fellow riders, a helicopter fly over and a "moment of cheer" from the crowd.

"I think it needed to be brought to attention that Jeremy Lusk was a big part of the sport," third-place finisher Nate Adams said. "He won the biggest contest on the face of planet and he passed away this year. It is hard, but we've all accepted his passing."

When the action started, it featured the sport's standard, high-flying manoeuvres. Once the dust had settled, Blake Williams was alone in first place.

Jeremy Stenberg finished second with a score of 86 and Adams an 82.

Williams concluded a strong showing at the games after finishing second to Kyle Loza in Moto X Best Trick on Friday.

Pierre Luc Gagnon (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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