Jimmy Wilkins, of Columbus, Ohio, launched out of the X Games vert ramp during the vert finals Thursday
Jimmy Wilkins’ dad is an orchestra conductor, and his mom is a former ballerina turned dance teacher.
But while some would describe Wilkins’ skateboarding as rhythmic or lyrical — a style he might have learned growing up around theaters in his native Columbus, Ohio — Wilkins said it’s far from music playing in his head as he stares down a towering vert ramp.
“No, I mostly am in, like, a constant panic state,” Wilkins said. “It doesn’t really have to do much with my skating, other than my parents are really cool, and they were down to support me with my weird life choice.”
Wilkins posted an 89 in his first run Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium to earn an X Games gold medal, his second including a 2014 victory. It’s his fourth medal overall, after the 24-year-old finished second last year to Japan’s Moto Shibata. Shibata placed second this year, while last year’s bronze medalist, Mitchie Brusco, took third for the second consecutive year.
Despite Shibata landing three of his signature “kamikaze” moves, he wasn’t able to catch Wilkins, who became the youngest athlete to ever win two skateboard vert golds.
But that record likely would stun Wilkins, who was a bit self-deprecating about his top performance.
“Just a total surprise. Kind of in shock. I’m just always happy to get through a contest with just making a run and, like, not getting hurt,” Wilkins said. “So anything else is bonus.”
Wilkins said his first run is usually his best, since he’s fresh off practice and his legs aren’t tired yet. But he didn’t take any extra enjoyment in watching Shibata and Brusco chase his score. He said he just found it “crazy” he managed two consecutive podiums and called his two competitors the best skaters he knows.
All three skaters earned spots in next year’s final despite rain threatening to postpone the event. Scheduled to start at 9 p.m., the competition started closer to 9:30 — actually because a baseball game ran long on ESPN. But Wilkins said he knew early in the week a delay was possible, and being from Ohio, he is aware of the unpredictable Midwest weather.
Even though the ramp had to be leaf-blown a couple hours before the start to dry it, Wilkins said the conditions were solid. And he won’t have to reschedule his plan of meeting his dad in Boston on Friday.
His musical parents weren’t in attendance Thursday to see their son’s triumph, but that was probably for the best. Wilkins, who termed himself a “horrible” musician who was kicked out of ballet at age 5, was relieved his parents watched on TV from home.
“It gives me a little break from the pressure if they’re not here,” Wilkins said. “I get nervous skating in front of them because this is a weird thing I’m doing, you know? It’s like, I didn’t go to school, and I don’t have a job, and I’m doing this. So, like, a lot of pressure.”
But a gold medal just might make them proud.
“I hope so,” Wilkins said.