Elliot Sloan was thinking only of the landing as he spun perfectly, majestically, 15 feet above the ramp on the Big Air track at the X Games in Sydney on Oct. 21, 2018.
The Weedmaps-sponsored skateboarder brilliantly executed an Indy 720 to tailgrab 900, clinched X Games gold, and earned skater immortality. Even in the go-big-or-go-home stakes of Big Air skateboarding, Sloan's ride is historic, and not just for the legendary nature of the 900. As he spun 2 ½ times in the air, Sloan wore a white shirt featuring the logo of Weedmaps' signature turquoise WM and black smile, for the whole world to see.
And it's the second time he's done so as a Weedmaps-sponsored athlete.
Brazilian Rony Gomes won the silver and 18-year-old Trey Wood took home the bronze.
When Sloan took his fourth and final Big Air jump, it seemed as though he'd been launching himself into the air forever. Well, at least since he was about 12 years old.
“What makes it special is the first time I saw [Big Air] was in a Danny Way video and was so blown away,” said Sloan, 30, to Marijuana.com. “It was things I didn't think were possible and that's what started it. I was 12 and saw it in a skate shop and it set me on the path.”
Still known as the mega ramp to some, Big Air consists of a roll-in ramp, a gap jump, and a quarter pipe. It was first introduced to the X Games in 2004. Since then, it has changed only enough to allow equal opportunity for regular and goofy stance riders.
“But the level of skating has changed a lot,” he said. “If you look at the first few years of it, the stuff they were doing then is just a warm-up for the guys now.”
Traveling all the way to Australia from California for the annual extreme sports competition added no weight on his shoulders, but there was something burning in the back of his mind. Something the nine-time X Games medalist was determined to erase. Everything had come down to not repeating his disappointing Big Air performance in the July 2018 Minneapolis X Games, where he abandoned his game plan and finished a distant ninth.
This time, he stuck to the plan. But it would take until his final jump to claim redemption.
“I was really trying not to get overwhelmed with that pressure of having one chance left,” Sloan said. To Sloan, it was a matter of doing what he does best without being too bold.
“I made my safety run and was sticking to the plan. I did a couple of tricks in practice and it felt pretty good. I felt comfortable enough to go for it,” he said. “On the last spin, I wasn't too far out. I was thinking about and looking for the landing.”
He knew he had the landing the moment his wheels cleanly hit the ramp in exactly the spot he was looking for.
After the performance in Minneapolis, the victory was especially reinvigorating for a skater who has more on his mind than his cabinet full of medals.
“It gets me excited to keep pushing and skating. I'll push for the title next year.” Sloan said. But, the plan ahead is bigger and better.
“Weedmaps is helping me build a ramp in my backyard,” he said of the ramp he's building in his San Diego home. “I'm super-excited to finish this project and have it be a whole new event. I've had this idea for quite a while. Maybe eight or nine years. When you land the quarter-pipe, you go right into another run.”
Sloan seems to be on top of the Big Air world and is representing a cannabis brand on an international stage. It's anyone's guess what the future holds for Sloan, but he and his Weedmaps shirt are all smiles for now.