Young X Games stars upstage vets

Mark Kohlman/ESPN

X Games Big Air competitor Tom Schaar practices his 1080 on Wednesday.

The generational shift in Skateboard Big Air came into crisp contrast on Wednesday as 12-year-old Tom Schaar took the spotlight at an X Games press conference, while defending Big Air champ Bob Burnquist, 35, waited in the wings.

Schaar, seated near the center of the group and fidgeting nervously, was introduced by the legendary Tony Hawk as "the first and only person to land a 1080 on a skateboard." Burnquist, who was injured in practice on Tuesday, admitted that he'd spent most of the day sitting in a wheelchair.

"I have just one question," joked Burnquist, posing as a reporter during the press conference. "Hey, Tom, can you go easy on me this time?"

Schaar landed the first 1080 on the MegaRamp at Camp Woodward in April, then beat Burnquist with the trick later that month in the Skateboard Big Air event at X Games Asia 2012. Landing the 1080 also landed Schaar a guest spot on "Ellen" and has made him into one of the most-hyped stories heading into X Games Los Angeles 2012.

Schaar downplayed the buzz, saying he's just in it to skate and have fun, and that he's glad to be among friends. His Big Air peers in Los Angeles this week include 11-year-old Jagger Eaton, the youngest competitor in X Games history; Trey Wood, also 11; Alex Sorgente, 14; Mitchie Brusco, 15; and Jono Schwan, 15.

The young skaters have all met each other during the last two years at Woodward West. The action-sports camp opened its MegaRamp training facility in January 2011, and has been instrumental in driving progression and attracting younger riders to the sport.

"Having all this young energy around has been absolutely awesome," said Burnquist, who never has missed an X Games competition in the 18-year history of the event, has earned a total of 21 X Games medals, and says he'll be at it for another 18 years if he has anything to say about it.

"Skating with Tom has been inspiring and I can honestly say I'm learning a lot, and not just from, obviously, his amazing skill on a skateboard, but also because he's just a Grade-A personality and a good kid. I'm stoked to have Tom around, and I look forward to skating with him for years to come."

Schaar will compete in the Skateboard Big Air Elimination Round on Thursday night, airing from 9-11 p.m. ET on ESPN2. As the defending champ, Burnquist will get a bye to advance to Friday's finals, airing from 9 p.m.-12 a.m. ET on ESPN.

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