DULLES, Va. - The coveted 900. Before May, only one man, the legendary Tony Hawk, had pulled it off on a skateboard in competition. That changed on Mother's Day at the Latin X Games, when Sandro Dias finally landed the trick.
After six months of repeatedly trying to put the 900 down, Dias, the top-ranked vert skateboarder in the world, completed the 2 1/2 revolutions. He did it in his native Brazil, in front of his mother, other family members, friends and some of his most dedicated fans.
"Everyone was waiting for the 900 in Brazil, and I landed it there. It was unbelievable," Dias said. "It was a perfect day for me."
Dias hoped to land another 900 yesterday, as he joined more than 30 other extreme sports athletes at Dulles Town Center to compete in the Mobile Skatepark Series.
Like many pro athletes, Dias had to come a long way to get to the top. His adventure began at age 11 when he and a friend attached an old tire to a skateboard and rolled each other down the hills of Santo Andre, Brazil. He went to the few skateparks around when he was a child and watched the pros. He read magazines and watched movies, studying all he could - the little he could find.
"It was a small thing when I started," Dias said.
And though the sport has grown exponentially in Brazil, the country still lacks a large amount of competitions, which Dias attributes partially to a mediocre economy.
Dias said he hopes to become an ambassador for the sport, using his success to propel the sport, bringing respect and credibility to it in the eyes of the older generations, while supporting the younger generation with advice.
"When they recognize those athletes as number one, they support them so much," Dias said. Then "it's time for [that] guy to help the sport."
Right now, that guy is Dias.
He's not alone in his quest though. Riding with him most of the way is his girlfriend, Fabiola da Silva. Da Silva, a fellow Brazilian, is one of the top aggressive in-line skaters in the world.
The pair help each other as much as possible, often traveling together and competing alongside one another in their different events. This weekend was no different as both competed in Dulles.
Da Silva challenges Dias to do better and different tricks, pressing him to a higher level. "She knows my capacity," Dias said.
Dias, 29, hopes to compete for 10 more years and then stay with the sport, helping from the outside.
"I'm starting [to do] different things for my future," Dias said. "I want to try to do something involving skateboarding."
Given the pounding his body takes while skating, he may not be able to last 10 years. The impact he has left on the skateboarding culture, some expect to last much longer.
"He leaves an impact not just on skateboarding but on the culture," BMX biker Koji Kraft said of Dias.
"He doesn't do a lot of technical stuff, but he's bringing back the older stuff ... the big airs," MSS skateboarder Mike Crum said. "He makes it look good. You can do the tricks, but you have to have the style, too."
Oh, and that 900 Dias wanted to land yesterday? He did, winning the MSS trick contest, $2,000 and perhaps worth even more, respect from his fellow competitors and fans.