SALT LAKE CITY — Pierre-Luc Gagnon had a high risk-high reward run planned, but it turned out he didn't have to lay it down.
The defending Dew Cup champion in Skateboard Vert earned 94 points from the judges on his second run and no one — not even iconic skater Shaun White or crowd favorite Bucky Lasek — could do better.
"I had a better run planned (for the fifth and final run), but then Shaun (White) fell, so I didn't need it," said the Montreal native. "I had a back-up plan in case Shaun made it, but I don't even know if it would have beat my (earlier) score."
White finished second with a score of 89.75 and Bucky Lasek was third with a score of 87.75.
"Third is not too shabby," said Lasek, the oldest competitor on the podium at 38. "I had some more to go, but I fell a bit short at the end."
The same three men were on the podium in Ocean City, Md., but Lasek was first, Gagnon second and White third. Asked about the competition between the trio, White called it a "fierce battle so far. A battle of friends."
Gagnon was happy to be on top of the podium, especially since he was battling both the world's best skateboarders and the altitude.
"I definitely felt it in the finals," he said smiling. "We had eight runs (total), and we didn't get that much time to recover."
He said he had an advantage over the other four skaters in the finals as he scored the 94 on his second of five runs in Saturday afternoon's final in front of a packed house.
"I fell on my first run, and I wasn't happy about it, but that was the right time to fall," he said. "As (the contest) goes along, the judges get a little bit more excited and the scores go up. I was just hoping it would hold up."
It was a loud and animated crowd that offered support to all of Saturday's competitors.
"The crowd was awesome," said Lasek. "They stood by everyone and that was nice. (Crowd support) definitely bumps up the level of riding."
After two decades of competing, Lasek said he's seen a lot of different styles and skaters, but there is one thing that remains true.
"It's a matter of who is consistently having a good day," he said smiling.