The underside of a very large rock would be the assumed living place of someone not familiar with the name Bucky Lasek. As far as action sports go, his notoriety has reached mammoth proportions, spreading out year after year thanks to consistent success in competitive skateboarding, car racing and an ability to foster a hearty presence in popular culture due to his affable personality.
What is that, you say? I’m missing one of his most crucial qualifications? Yeah, I guess I should respect the fact that he had one of the best characters in “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.”
Dew Tour 2013
Last weekend, the Dew Tour kicked off another year with a more streamlined contest schedule — Beach Championships in Ocean City, MD, June 20-23; City Championships in San Francisco, CA, October 10-13; Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, CO, December 12-15 — less events, yet each one bigger and better than ever before possible. The competition in Ocean City was steep, yet Bucky ripped it up and showed his native state fans one hell of a time.
In the Skate Vert semis on Thursday, he went on to finish just behind Pierre-Luc Gagnon for second place, staking a claim right off the bat that X Games gold wasn’t enough to satisfy his 2013 craving for victory. The following day, he was able to stand atop the number one spot and take first in the skate bowl semi-final.
The Skate Vert finals saw Bucky continue to pour on the goods, snatching up the victory from Gagnon and reinforcing his reputation as a continued, proven success in the Dew Tour. The final day in Ocean City included two final rounds in the Skate Bowl. After exciting runs from each competitor, the degree of talent was made apparent as Bucky was forced to take the second spot to winner Pedro Barros.
Gold in X Games Munich
Keeping up his already searing momentum for 2013, Bucky clinched overall victory during the Skateboard Vert in yesterday’s X Games after rocketing to the top following some less than favorable first few rounds. He was able to overtake Gagnon and a whole other slew of young and veteran riders by implementing some more risky maneuvers into his final run.
Age? What is this age you speak of?
When you brush over this guy’s accolades, it’s almost shocking to remember that he is 40 years old. Not 40 years old and running a monthly 10K, but 40 years old and crushing dudes half his age in an extreme sport that requires incredible talent and ruthless guts. It’s almost the norm to associate such longevity with a decline, regardless of how steep the pitch, but glossing over the aforementioned results, coupled with his gold in this year’s X Games, really makes associating Bucky with any sort of downturn a nonsensical notion.
How does skating stack up to car racing? What was it like playing as himself for the first time in the video game “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”? Get inside the mind of a ridiculously cool dude and read on for the exclusive Bullz-Eye interview:
Getting to the point where you have the ability to win X Games gold seems like it requires a 100% all-out approach. How is it that you were able to do that this year, all while being a professional race car driver?
I think over the years, I’ve been skating so much that sometimes you overdo yourself. You over skate, you over compete, you know there is only so much you can handle. I think what car racing has done for me is given a much needed break – given my body time to recover, and take some of the over thinking out of the equation. And now I have more fun when I go out skating, to just go out and not have so much pressure.
How would you contrast racing against the clock in a car race with that of a skateboard run, where you are trying to gain maximum points through various tricks? Is one more nerve-wracking then the other?
I think, of course, skating is more physical, [but] both are about the same mentally. Both take a lot of focus. You know, tricks as opposed to turns… very similar. Being able to execute a trick is pretty much the same as being able to execute a turn. Both are very demanding mentally, being aware of your peripherals, being in touch with your actions and physical capabilities, as far as hand-eye coordination. Both are very similar.
A lot of people have pretty Hollywood-style perceptions about car racing, perhaps formed when one is a kid. How do you think actually being a car racer has compared to what you imagined when you were younger?
I always did a lot of racing when I was a kid — it’s just that doing it at the level that I’m at now takes a lot of time and dedication. It all comes down to… I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the concept of 10,000 hours, but if you can do something for that long, you are pretty much going to get good at it, so it relates a lot to time.
Does competing within two sports change your perception of them, being that if you are frustrated with one, you can diffuse that and focus on the other?
It carries over in good and bad ways. You may have a bad day at home with your loved ones and it carries over to work, and vice versa, so in a sense it can be both good and bad. But when you have two separate careers like I do, although very playful and enjoyable, they don’t necessarily reflect on each other. I use one to refresh the other and rejuvenate me.
With your gold at X Games this year, does such a high-profile win influence the rest of your contest strategy, or is every contest approached with full effort?
For me, it’s kinda crazy. It’s not like I haven’t won X Games or the Dew Tour in the past. If you go back, I’ve probably been top three for a good decade. Winning first over second is definitely a bit more attention, but it’s hard, the second place guy doesn’t get the notoriety. Last year, I got second place about all year and this year started out so good that I won everything, so I don’t put that much value on that, basically.
I could go to a huge majority of my friends and they would know exactly who you are. Did you always see skateboarding as having the potential to take you this far?
It definitely was a slow progression. Starting out locally, competing locally against friends, you start to get a name for yourself and then you pick up some bigger sponsors and start travelling more, but it was definitely a gradual sort of thing for me. It’s not like I was a hit overnight like some YouTube sensation; I’ve put work in. I feel like I’ve carried a very humble approach, I know where I came from, and I think that’s important.
Was there ever a point you were unhappy with the direction skateboarding was going?
In a contest situation, people will sometimes get judged better than they should, but with everything, I’ve seen a lot of stuff come and go with trends and tricks, which at the time were the latest and greatest thing, but then they just fizzled out. It happens in everything, yet one sport where it doesn’t really happen is racing.
Do you feel that judges in competition are always spot on, or are decisions frequently questionable? And does the quality of judging vary noticeable from event to event?
Sometimes the judges get it good. Sometimes in qualifying, if they don’t get it good, you can approach them and see exactly what they are looking for, because the judgment they used may not have been seen the same way. Sometimes you bring it to their attention that they gotta get it straight in the finals, but in qualifying it really doesn’t matter, as long as you’re in. It really comes down to the big show, the finals and all that. They also keep the same judges around, which is good and bad. They tend to judge you against yourself because they know what you are capable of and they may know the level of competition isn’t as high in this competition. It’s hard though, being a judge — it’s not like there’s someone crossing a finish line, you’re being a judge and you have to deal with it.
Do you build your contest runs around a specific, difficult trick, or is it more about consistent moves that lend to a more trusty strategy? How is your in-contest strategy influenced by the performance of others?
I definitely build my runs around some of the new tricks that I’ve been doing, but I do have tricks that I am very comfortable with that are still very competitive. So I have my staple tricks that I throw in there, but it definitely comes down to what the guys are doing. You know, skating at the highest level I have ever seen, it pushes me to do the same and raise the bar. Sometimes I’ll come out swinging with the gnarliest stuff I can possibly do, and if I make it, it really gets in the competitors’ heads; you’ll see them fall apart.
When coming into a big contest like the X Games or Dew Tour, can you perform under any circumstances or are there certain rituals the night before and day-of that you must follow?
I definitely try to get a good night’s sleep, but that’s about it. I don’t have any crazy eating habits or anything like that. I’m pretty normal day to day.
A lot has been said about the fans in Ocean City. Does performing in your native state give you a noticeable boost in confidence? Do American crowds resemble those internationally?
Whatever state or country you’re in, you’re gonna have your favorites. Sandro Diaz and Bob Burnquist are from Brazil, so when they’re there, they have quite a following. It definitely plays a part and puts some pressure on you to be the best you can. Win or lose, I still think people are gonna be behind you, so I guess it’s more of a win situation, you know what I mean?
The Dew Tour compacted itself into three events last year. Do you think that fewer, bigger, possibly better events are the way to go when showcasing action sports, or are you a fan of more contests and venues?
I definitely think more is better. Having the points series was kind of the highlight of Dew Tour, and now they focus more on one event and one sport. It’s still rad, but I kinda liked when they had points, and if you did bad at one event, you could still go out and make a strong finish in the last two and win the overall. I thought that was a cool thing to have, but it’s still a really good contest and they do a great job promoting it.
There are tons of athletes in any sport that could only dream of the sort of success you have been experiencing. Is there any advice you could give those looking to have a Bucky-esque career?
Make smart decisions, don’t rush into things, and try to do whatever it takes to stay motivated.
As a side note, what was it like playing as yourself for the first time in “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”?
It was pretty cool. I never really got into those games but I did do a lot to make sure my character was one of the best characters. I spent a lot of time with the development team, coming up with tricks, what I wanted my character to look like. I spent a lot of time playing as my character to make sure all the moves were correct. But it was great to be a part of such a cool game; I get that all the time, that people play as my character, so it was rad – to think my name will be carried on like that.
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