Why I Will Enjoy the Flat Soccer Field

By ANDREW DALTON, Associated Press Writer
August 5, 2007

CARSON, Calif. (AP) -- Jake Brown didn't feel his shoes pop off.

"I was already knocked out," he said. "The last thing I remember was thinking, how do I fall?"

He didn't recall anything else until he walked off the mega ramp about 10 minutes later.

"Walking off the ramp, that was rough," he said.

At the X Games Skateboard Big Air competition Thursday night, Brown was in the lead heading into his fifth and final run when he lost control during his second trick, sailed out away from the ramp's platform and plunged about 40 feet onto his heels and then tailbone. He bruised his lung and liver, broke a wrist and a vertebra, and had his sneakers knocked off.

He finished with a silver medal for the second straight year. Bob Burnquist made the winning run right on Brown's heels.

The TV and internet video of the drop, which makes even hardened viewers flinch, has made Brown an instant celebrity.

He talked by phone from his Southern California hotel room Sunday morning, sore and a little bit groggy.

He said it started with a surge of joy.

After rolling down the 80-foot drop in, he made two full turns over the mega ramp's 70-foot gap and landed in the adjacent halfpipe, but had trouble maintaining control as he sped across its bottom and up the other wall.

"Yeah, the 720, it was the first one I've ever done over that big gap, or even the small one, so I was happy," he said. "But I was a little too far to the left for the trick I needed to do, so I started carving across the flat over the right, and I tried to carve back left, and my timing was a little too late, I got a little bit wobbly going up."

His instincts, which would help him seconds later, did him wrong at first when he shot up and away from the lip of the halfpipe and over the flat area in its middle.

"The G-forces made me squat down onto my board, my natural instinct was to stand up, and that just shot me out to the flat. So I was 40 feet up, and 30 feet out."

Brown said that as other skaters have speculated, much of the flailing fall that followed was intentional.

"I definitely was trying to think of the best way to get out of the fall," he said. "I think I did pretty good."

Big Air skaters, taking a tip from skydivers, have learned to spread themselves out and roll into an impact, and Brown did his best to do that.

"I wanted to turn around so I didn't go face first into the flat," he said. "I didn't want to just hit with one part of my body.

"Instead of landing on one part of my body I wanted to spread out the injury," he said.

Brown lay still for five minutes, then began to stir. He somehow walked away about five minutes after that.

The small, 32-year-old Australian's plunge and his incredible toughness was the talk of the X Games all weekend. He made an appearance to a huge ovation at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night between motorcycle races, and showed up to watch Sunday's Skateboard Vert competition.

"He's the greatest athlete of all time in the world," fellow Australian pro skater and friend Jason Ellis joked to ESPN's cameras Sunday. "Michael Jordan is nothing compared to Jake Brown."

But Brown was a bit dubious about his sudden celebrity.

"I'd rather be known for the stuff that I can actually do," he said. "But if that's going to help skateboarding, that's fine."

And how long would it be before he has the guts to get back on a skateboard? Months? Years?

"I was thinking just a couple of weeks," he said. "I was pretty sure if I just get some massage, some chiropractic, stretch and eat healthy, I can get back out there pretty quickly."