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Gagnon and Mayer are One and Two Again and Ellis wins the Big Air BMX Triples at the ASA Action Sports World Tour

05-14-2009 10:08 PM CET | Sports

Press release from: ASA Entertainment

CHICAGO (May 1, 2009) -- Action sports fans in the Windy City of Chicago were blown away by the tight competition at the ASA Action World Sports Tour stop at the Sears Centre Arena Friday night where the top seeded athletes ultimately won both the Skateboard Vert and the Big Air BMX Triples but not before some heart-pounding moments where upsets seemed totally in reach. Skateboarder Pierre-Luc Gagnon (Montreal, Canada) had to come from behind in the penultimate round in order to beat out Danny Mayer (Omaha, Nebraska) and extend his win streak to seven straight ASA majors, and BMX champ T.J. Ellis (Moreno Valley, Calif.) made it to the final round only by virtue of a split decision over James Foster (Redlands, Calif.) But what really had fans screaming at the filled arena was the fact that hometown hero Koji Kraft made it to the Big Air Finals and landed on the podium for the first time at an ASA event since 2005.

It was a battle from the start in the Skateboard Vert contest as Mayer and “PLG” opened the competition with first round runs that left the crowd parched with excitement. Gagnon confidently road into first place, leading Mayer and Buster Halterman (Wellsville, Penn.).

However the tides would turn in round two when Mayer lay down 10 walls, including his signature kick flip 540, producing one of the best runs of the evening. Gagnon followed but was unable to turn out more than three walls and went down – on the ramp and in the standings - to second place. Another hot run from Mayer in the third round put the pressure on PLG, but Gagnon answered in championship fashion, dropping into a 360 flip, followed by a 720, into a switch frontside heelflip revert and a kick flip indy 360 to fakie to move ahead with one run remaining.

“After I saw Danny’s run I figured I had nothing to lose so I went for it,” said Gagnon, and he reclaimed first place.

Mayer jacked up the competition a notch higher in the fourth round, landing everything in his arsenal, including another kickflip mctwist and a backside kickflip 360 to fakie which had PLG sure that he had been kicked out of the top spot, ending his win streak. But, on the ninth wall Mayer missed his cab heelflip, landing on his knees in frustration as he handed the win to PLG. For the second week in a row first place seemed within reach, but Mayer fell short and landed in second, again.

“It’s frustrating,” said Mayer. “While he’s my friend – best friend – when it comes to skating in competitions no one’s really your friend.”

“Danny really pushed me tonight,” said PLG. “It was hard and different from last week. When I saw his fourth run I thought ‘alright, it’s over.’ I didn’t think I could do anything better. So to win feels really amazing – I’m pretty psyched.”
Final standings in Skateboard Vert - Gagnon, Mayer, and Alex Perelson (San Diego, Calif.)

The Big Air BMX Triples line-up was one of the best in event history with Cory “Nasty” Nastazio (Corona, Calif.), Anthony Napolitan (Youngstown, Ohio) and Foster joining last weeks’ podium finishers, Ellis and Rob Darden along with local hero, Kraft. This was Nastazio’s first try at the Big Air BMX Triples event and he was hoping his dirt jumping expertise would transfer to the unique Triples layout. Nasty was up against Foster in the first round and threw out a huge back-flip tail-whip on the second jump but went down hard injuring his ankle and sending him to the sidelines early. Addison, Illinois native Kraft started the semifinal round off with a slow-rotating back-flip to decade-air as he defeated Zack Warden (St. Louis, Missouri) and earned himself a spot in the finals with dozens of family and friends screaming after every trick and proudly waving homemade signs of support.

“I had all of my friends, family, mom, sister and nieces here tonight. This is the first time they’ve seen me compete. I couldn’t have had a better crowd."

Darden, knowing what it takes to win in this event, landed two big tricks on his way to defeating Napolitan in the second semifinal match-up. The third semi-final pairing saw the number one seed, and last weeks’ runner-up, Ellis riding against Foster. After Foster stuck a back flip-cross-up to triple tail-whip, Ellis went bold right out of the gate as he landed one of the biggest front flips of the contest but went down off the quarter pipe. Fearing Foster might have a slim lead, Ellis knew he needed to perfect his run. He landed a no-handed back-flip to front flip. When Foster crashed on his second run, it left the judges huddled in deliberation. In a split decision, Ellis advanced, earning the last spot in the finals.

With the final round set, the fans were treated to the trio of Kraft, Darden and Ellis. Kraft started off the round with a back-flip combo followed by two back-to-back double tail-whips and set the bar high for the other competitors. Darden was second to ride and he had the judges’ heads spinning as he landed two 720s in a row. Ellis completed the first round with a 360 double-tail-whip followed by a big no-handed front flip and double tail-whip. At the end of the final’s first run, the order was Ellis in first followed by Kraft and then Darden.

Kraft and Darden both knew they needed to land some impressive tricks to overtake Ellis and they did not disappoint the raucous crowd. Kraft nearly rode away from the famed double back-flip but came up just short and went down. After leaping to his feet, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Darden followed and almost landed a back-flip tail-whip, the same trick that took out Nastazio earlier in the evening, but went down and eliminated his chances of taking the win.

Ellis’ first-run bag of tricks was too much for the other competitors and he took the top spot on the podium.

As part of the ASA Action Sports World Tour, this Sears Centre Arena stop will air on networks to include CBS Sports, VERSUS, FUEL TV, and Fox Sport Net. International fans will also enjoy the action via 32 networks globally. Please stay tuned to ActionSportsTour.com for the complete broadcast schedule.

Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio will host stop number five of the 2009 ASA Action Sports World Tour on May 23 – 24. For event information and tickets, please visit ActionSportsTour.com.

Founded in 1994, ASA Entertainment, LLC is an action sports event, television and content production agency focused on creating and executing customized, turn-key marketing programs that range in scale from grassroots to global. ASA’s events, featuring skateboarding, freestyle BMX, inline skating, free-skiing, freestyle motocross, snowboarding and music, are broadcast domestically on CBS, Spike, VERSUS, FUEL TV and Fox Sports Net, and distributed during 937 hours of programming to more than 1 billion HH globally via our 32 international broadcast partners. ASA's productions span the spectrum from large, international competitions such as the LG Action Sports World Championships to amateur contests, lifestyle and branded entertainment events, demonstrations, exhibitions and mobile tours. As one of the most established organizations in action sports, ASA Entertainment strives to develop premium content around the fastest growing sector of American sports. ASA Entertainment is a member of the Omnicom Group. For more information, visit as ASAentertainment.com or ActionSportsTour.com.

Denise M. Abbott - ASA Entertainment, LLC
Director of Media Relations & Marketing
5855 Green Valley Circle
Suite 308
Culver City, CA 90230
310 410 3020 x.309
310 430 0496 cell
abbott@asaent.com

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