The Road To The X-Games Runs Through San Diego        

San Diego has long been a mecca for board-riders, whether it be on waves of water or concrete.

This town just seems to feed talent and inspire creativity.

As result, we were chosen as a qualifying stop en-route to this year’s Summer X-Games in Minneapolis (it probably doesn’t hurt that we have one of the best half-pipes in the country).

Some of the planet’s top skaters and BMX freestylers were invited to the “Vert Mission” at our own Mission Valley YMCA on May 20th to compete for a place on the world’s largest action-sports stage; only the top five in skate would gain entry.

At the end of the day, two of the top five skateboarders were San Diego residents. It was an amazing display of both talent and raw determination.

This ‘earn your spot’ approach hasn’t been in play for about 16 years.

Gaining entry to the X-Games had sort of become, in my opinion, more of a popularity contest; how many shoes or video games you sold seemed to outweigh who’s at the top of their game right now. It seemed like X-Games would simply invite whom they thought would show well in their events (more viewers = more money).

This approach is great if you’re an international star with a energy-drink sponsor, not so great if you’re an unknown going for your dream.

The qualifier seems to not only even the playing field, but in this case, inspire the ‘old guys’ to step it up.

SD locals Andy Macdonald and Bucky Lasek both hit their mark at Vert Mission. The 44-year-old Macdonald took the fifth and final spot while 43-year-old Lasek qualified first; an amazing feat considering both of these guys were competing when the other contestants were still in diapers.

After the final results were announced, Bucky was asked about having to qualify for an event in which he’s earned a gold medal 10 times…”at first I was thinking ‘don’t you know who I am?’ [joking], it was great and today was my day.”

When I spoke with Mr. Macdonald about revisiting the old approach he said, “Starting to have the qualifier event is key because it takes out some of the politics.”

Andy has competed in every X-Games since its inception, with the exception of last year when he did not receive an invite.

Many of us were scratching our heads about that one…

Continuing our conversation, I asked him how it felt to not only qualify but to do it in front of his hometown crowd.

His response: “Having it at home at the Mission Valley YMCA park made it a bit more special for me and I was of course stoked to earn a spot. Vindication I think is the word.”

In addition to the unreal skate, some next-level BMX riding went down as well. Check the video above for a peek.

If you can’t make it to Minneapolis this summer, you can watch it all live July 13-16th (check out ESPNXGames).

To check out more stills and video of Vert Mission check out #vertmission on Instagram.