The X Games are set to kick off Thursday in Austin, Texas, the 20th year of the summer action-sports event.
Of all the athletes who will be competing through Sunday, two hail from the Baltimore area: Bucky Lasek (Dundalk) and Travis Pastrana (Annapolis).
The Baltimore Sun recently caught up by phone with the 41-year-old Lasek, who will be competing in his 21st X Games (a total that includes trips to international X Games competitions in Europe and South America). Lasek will compete in the men's skateboard vert and rallycross events.
Lasek's career is decorated with medals of all colors. Just last year, Lasek won four consecutive vert skateboarding titles at X Games in Barcelona, Munich, Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and Los Angeles. The gold-medal sweep was the first time Lasek reached the top of the podium in a men's vert skateboarding event at the X Games since 2004.
This year's men's skateboard vert competition takes place Thursday. The men's rallycross is scheduled for Saturday.
Baltimore Sun: 41 years of age is relatively old for action sports. Do you ever have moments where you feel too old?
Bucky Lasek: My body — I just busted my elbow open a little while ago and got stitches and put three holes in my elbow. That gets old. Other than that, it's just something you deal with. Getting hurt gets old. But that's about it.
So, the competitive mentality has stayed the same all these years?
Yeah, I think it's just a little bit more intuition now. It's a little easier. The awareness, you know, I've been skating for so long, so my awareness is on point. That hasn't changed much. It's just dealing with the injuries.
How have your practices and training adjusted with your age?
Right now, the only thing that's hurting me is the fact that I have to stay off my elbow. So I won't have that much practice leading up to the X Games. But I'll be fresh, aside from my elbow not working.
Will your elbow be good to go by the time the X Games start?
I doubt it. I can't bend it all the way and I can't straighten it all the way. It's not the stitches, but more of the joint swelling that I'm dealing with.
How do you plan on adjusting your routine so that you won't have to worry about your elbow?
I just look at it as evening the odds, maybe, giving the other guys a chance this year.
What's changed about vert skateboarding since you first started? That seems like forever ago.
There's more media. It's more of a sport. There are younger kids doing it now. It's definitely gotten harder and more technical.
What's it been like to watch vert skateboarding evolve over the years into the sport it is today?
It's like watching a good movie. You don't ever want it to end. Skateboarding is one of the only sports out there where the sequel is always going to be better.
Last year, you claimed first place in vert skateboarding after a nine-year stretch where you couldn't find the top of the podium. What did you change that helped you get back to the top?
I think it was just focus. I don't know, just aggression and focus and I just had fun. I stopped stressing out about it. I think I just became more comfortable with myself. I just went out there and had fun instead of trying to be strategic.
What are you looking forward to most about the X Games in Austin?
I'm looking forward to getting back in my racecar, and trying to get on the podium in that event.
What's it been like dabbling in rallycross over the last few years?
I'm big time into road racing. I had the opportunity to go on a test run with Subaru. They liked what they saw, so I started driving for Subaru. I was already doing a lot of racing on my own, so when this opportunity came up, I jumped on it with both feet in.
How would you compare the thrill of rallycross to that of vert skateboarding?
Putting your mind together for a contest is sort of like putting the racetrack together with your car. You have to learn the turns, what works, what's fast. The only big difference is learning the adjustments and changes you need to make. Everything else is just like doing tricks on a skateboard. Learning the turns — every turn is like a different trick. You learn these turns, you put it together and there's your lap time.
So it's more the mental preparation and execution that's the same.
Yeah, the physical side is totally different. There's a lot to racing that someone from skateboarding just wouldn't be able to jump in and be good at it. You do have to spend time. It's a technique.
Where: Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas
When: Thursday through Sunday
TV: ESPN, ESPN3, ABC