What is a mega ramp?

August 28, 2020 | Skateboarding
Mega ramps: a large scale version of a half-pipe or vert ramp ranging from 200 to 360 feet in length | Photo: Red Bull

A mega ramp is a large scale version of a half-pipe or vert ramp used for big air skateboarding and BMX.

Modern mega ramps are complex structures made from metal scaffolding and wood layers covered with smooth Skatelite sheets.

There are two main mega ramp designs: the XXL half-pipe type, and the three-section version featuring the roll-in, the gap jump, and the vert quarter-pipe.

The roll-in, also known as drop-in section, is a 40-foot plus high (12 meters), 45-degree speed slope in which the skater accelerates toward the upcoming riding zones.

Then, you can have the gap jump or a vert quarter-pipe.

The gap section has become increasingly popular and a standard in mega ramps. It usually features a 25-to-50-foot (7.5-to-21 meters) free space between the launch and landing sections.

The trick is to clear the gap by jumping above it and land on the other side, a sloped forward section designed to decrease the landing impact.

Some structures don't include the gap section and, instead, feature a vert quarter-pipe that is generally 20-foot-plus in height and allows skaters to perform massive air maneuvers.

The overall length of a mega ramp ranges from 200 to 360 feet (60 to 108 meters).

One of the earliest models of a mega ramp was built in 1992 by American BMX rider, Mat Hoffman.

Mega ramp: a giant metal and wood structure that allows skateboarders to accelerate at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour | Photo: Red Bull

Leap of Faith: Famous Mega Ramp Stunts

On October 12, 1999, Andy Macdonald set the Guinness World Record for the longest distance on a skateboard: 52 feet and 10 inches (16.1 meters).

The achievement was reached on a 41-foot high (12.5 meters), 298-foot (91 meters) long structure built at a secret location in East Lansing, Michigan.

In 2004, Lyndsey Adams Hawkins (Lyn-Z) became the first female skater to jump the DC mega ramp built in Temecula.

Danny Way also embarked on a few extreme record-breaking attempts, initially in XL ramps built in the California desert.

"In 2003, at the Point X skatepark camp in Temecula, Way used one of the earliest mega ramps to set new world records for both distance jumping (22.86 meters) and highest air (7.16 meters)," notes Iain Borden in his book "Skateboarding and the City."

The first ramp cost $100,000 and had two roll-ins of 48 and 64 feet, leading to 12-foot launch ramps and then gaps of 60 and 75 feet.

Way's beautifully performed mega ram airs can be seen in "The DC Video."

Two years later, the skater from Portland improved his mark by pushing the distance jumping world record to 79 feet (24 meters).

Danny Way: flying 25.49 feet into the sky for a Guinness World Record | Photo: Way Archive

In 2005, Danny traveled to Asia to challenge the 21-foot wide Great Wall of China.

"It's big - really big. It's definitely going to make me go a lot higher, a lot faster, and a lot further than I've ever been before," he said at the time.

"When I clear the Wall and hit the landing ramp, I'll be going close to 50 miles per hour. I'm going to hold on for dear life, do the biggest air I've ever done, and hope for the best."

Way completed the stunt using a 30-meter high launch ramp.

In 2015, the extreme skateboarding stunt specialist set a new world record for the highest air - 25.49 feet (7.77 meters) - at California's Cuyamaca mountains.

For the feat, he rode the tallest ever - 85 feet high (26 meters) - ramp for the drop-in, and then a connecting run-in, launch quarter-pipe, plus a 55-foot (17 meters) landing section.

One year earlier, in 2014, Tom Schaar won the gold medal at the X Games Austin's Big Air competition after performing a backside 720 jump followed by a 900 air.

In 2013, Adil Dyani set a world record after jumping from a raised platform into a quarter-pipe ramp with a height of 30.8 feet (9.39 meters) from drop point to wheels touchdown at the Royal Norwegian Air Force control and alert station in Mågerø, Norway.

In 2014, eight-year-old skateboarding sensation Minna Stess dropped into the Woodward mega ramp.

Mega ramps: a death-defying leap into skateboarding abyss | Photo: Creative Commons

The Mega Ramp at the X Games

The mega ramp was used for the first time in skateboarding competition at the 2004 X Games.

Two years later, the Big Air event added BMX to the showdown.

The X Games mega ramp was similar to Danny Way's original Point X structure.

It had two roll-ins of 60 or 80 feet (18 or 24 meters), which launched skateboarders over gaps of 50 or 70 feet (15 or 21 meters).

Riders would land in a quarter-pipe that was 77-foot (23 meters) tall before accelerating toward the vert section.

In 2007, Jake Brown was hospitalized after free-falling from 45 feet (14 meters) in the air during a mega ramp stunt at the X Games.

After completing the first 720, he hit the quarter-pipe, and then lost control at the top of the jump and fell straight down to the hardwood ramp.

Brown was knocked unconscious but survived. And six years later, he made sure he landed the world's first ollie 720 at the same event.

At the 2008 X Games, Danny Way went for an air, clipped the edge of the ramp, did a flip, and landed on his back.

Despite the horrendous fall and injury, Way returned to the mega ramp to claim the silver medal on his last and unforgettable run.

Bob Burnquist's Dreamland Mega Ramp

In 2006, Bob Burnquist built a private skatepark named Dreamland at his home somewhere in the hills of East Vista, in San Diego, California.

The facility includes a $280,000 mega ramp funded by Oakley and Hurley. The structure features around 400 sheets of plywood and the construction took a year to complete.

Burnquist's permanent world-renowned mega ramp comprises a 50-to-70-foot (15-21 meters) gap jump, followed by a 30-foot (9 meters) quarter-pipe.

Dreamland's mega ramp is 62 feet tall and 293 feet long.

It is an impressive, invitation-only, big air skateboarding construction that is continuously being improved and updated.

One of the latest add-ons (2013) is a hip ramp built at a 90-degree angle to the mega ramp's quarter-pipe section.

Burnquist has simple advice for anyone wishing to get airborne at the colossal structure: "don't go if you're not ready."

Ready to send it? Put on a helmet and drop in.

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