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Getting in-line at the X Games

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Sydney's twin towers
08.18.00
by: DJ Murphy
ESPN.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cesar Mora and Matt Salerno, both natives of Sydney, Australia, tower over the world of in-line vert. They are the sport's Butch and Sundance.

Together they have earned four of the last six X Games medals awarded and are favorites in this year's event as well. These neighbors command attention at in-line comps around the world due to the incredible success they have enjoyed. They are the vanguard of Australian skaters who hastened the transition of vert from just another American hobby to a world-class, truly international event. They are friends, competitors, compatriots and, according to Salerno, business partners.

vert skater

In response to the Australian government's closure of all the public vert ramps in that country, Salerno says he and Mora are kicking around the idea of building a private ramp for skaters Down Under. Mora, on the other hand, laughs when he hears of the proposed venture.

"Is that what Matt said? See, Matt's got all these plans that I don't know about until people come and tell me," chuckled Mora. "Like last year, we were going to buy a house together in Pennsylvania. That was pretty interesting because, of all places in America, why Pennsylvania in the winter?"

The friends good-naturedly tear each other apart like this on a regular basis. Salerno accuses Mora of being a media hound and Mora fires back.

"How would he even know. We live five minutes from each other and the last four years we've skated three sessions together. He doesn't want to skate vert with me. I get to the skatepark and he goes and skates street. He's a little punk," says Salerno.

The constant ripping marks them as friends but doesn't obscure the true admiration they have for each other professionally. The measure of this is evident when Mora speaks of the difficulty Salerno has experienced recently on the vert ramp. They have leaned on one another throughout their careers and when one struggles, it affects the other.

"All last year he skated (poorly) on vert and it's not inspiring," said Mora. "It's sad, to me, to see the best skater in the world skate like that. This year he got his act together, pulled himself out of it, skated really well and deserved to win."

Salerno has, indeed, shed his troubles placing first at the X Trials in Nashville this June and winning gold at the Gravity Games. Mora, for one, couldn't be happier.

"When he skates like that I don't care if he beats me or I beat him. I just want to be in the same area breathing the same air as him. That inspires me."

With Salerno back on top of his game and Mora still on his, the air they could breathe together on the medal stand at the X Games will be rarified.

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