Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Extreme events excite the totally bored

TOTALLY BOARD Brazilian skateboarder, Sandro Dias, wowed the crowd with back to back 540s, kick-flips and rodeo grabs as Fugazi blared

By Sean Scanlan  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Sandro Dias does a board grab high above a king-sized ``vert ramp'' during a warm-up session on Saturday at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. He was gearing up for the Totally Board extreme sports competition.

PHOTO: SANDRA LIN

A small crowd lined a king-sized "vert ramp" yesterday afternoon at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial hall in Taipei as they watched some of the world's top skateboarders and BMX riders practice ahead of "Totally Board."

Brazilian skateboarder, Sandro Dias, amazed spectators with back to back 540s, kick-flips and rodeo grabs.

Dias he held back on signature moves such as his "Christ-air," where he flies high above the vert ramp with with his skateboard clutched in one hand. He also held off on the supremely difficult 900 turn.

At age 30, Dias is a superstar in a sport which began with backyard plywood ramps and drained swimming pools. Today, he and 40 other professional skateboarders make a living riding vert ramps for prize money, product endorsements and appearance fees.

Today's top prize is a new Nokia 6680 cellphone, with runner's up receiving the Nokia 7710 model, but it's the product endorsements and appearance fees the pay the rent for these performers.

Less well known Dias, but perhaps more gregarious is French skateboarder, Terrence Bougdour. He imitates Dias's "Christ air" with his own version he calls the "Frog Air" as well as the retinue of tail-slides, kick-flips, and 540's. Bougdour has been a professional for just six years, though he started as a professional snowboarder, representing the Rusty team before he switched to skateboarding.

"It's easier to learn tricks in snowboarding, but then it's also easy for other people to do them," Bougdour said. "In skateboarding, it takes months of practice, and that's where the satisfaction comes."

Bougdour admits that there's more sponsorship money in snowboarding, as the sport is deemed a "family sport," especially in his native France. In this regard, his decision to pursue skateboarding was not the best choice, with his career seeing its fair share of ups and downs such as getting dropped from the Globe team last year because his sponsor decided to concentrate on "street skating" instead of vert.

Bougdour said he has difficulty riding street, as the current trend is toward what he describes as "tiny decks, tiny wheels."

Bougdour has paid a painful price for choosing such a risky profession, most recently severing a kidney duct canal on a frontside rail slide that resulted in internal bleeding.

Bougdour is one of the few pros to use a black, carbon-fiber board -- the Revdeck from Revolution Skateboards -- instead of the traditional seven-ply Canadian Maple decks that most other pros use. He says the new material provides extra strength and durability.

Fellow pro and traveling companion, Jocke Ollson, a Korean adopted by a Swedish family, also rides a Revdeck.

Ollson delighted the crowd with big air on the vert ramp and is one of the few Asian pros on the circuit, which also included fellow Koreans Lincoln Ueda and Daewon Son.

Both Ollson and Bougdour took part in an LG demo in Beijing two weeks ago.

Bougdour said that he's able to make a fairly good living from participating demos such as the Totally Board event here in Taipei.

BMX

If you think riding of dropping in on a tiny skateboard is difficult, riding a BMX bike on this king sized vert ramp is even more difficult.

"This is a huge ramp -- almost an extra foot of vert -- which makes a very big difference to bike riders," Jon Taylor of England said.

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