I also think it's cool that Perry came back to contests in 1999 and qualified for the X-Games.
unless i'm not mistaken that had quite a few people pissed/rolling their eyes.
I still think Perry got railroaded for that one. That was the year they had single elimination qualifiers in heats of 4 riders. So if you drew an easy heat with 3 guys who you were better than or who made a lot of mistakes you were transferring to the finals for sure. On the other hand, you could easily get a heat with the two guys who would probably get 1st and 2nd place, so even if you would normally be good for say, 5th, there was no way you could make it to the finals and you ended up in the bottom 10. I think Perry drew a good heat for the qualifiers and tore it up. He was a pretty consistent rider.
The same thing happened to me that year in an ESPN contest in Richmond, even though I rode the contest of my life, I was in a qualifier heat with Andy Cooper and Joe Miller who both went on to place in the top 3 (I think). Looking back on it had I made it through to the finals I think I could've come in 5th or 6th, instead of around 11th.
I lot of the ire about that came from the fact that Perry did tricks that weren't considered cutting edge at the time. But they were hard. And he did them with such speed and finesse, and he did to the Perry Doom, probably the most dangerous flatland trick ever invented, a trick so scary probably less than 20 people in the last 20 years have done it. A trick so hard its essentially been deleted from modern flatland because so few flatlanders are willing to take the slams necessary to learn it.
Also I think some "hardcore" riders were pissed that Perry could take 9 years off and come back to so much attention so quickly. He seemed to get a lot of press that year. (then again, he was always a lot more media friendly than the typical headphones wearing introverted flatlander riding with a frown on their face and scowling at the crowd when not complaining about the surface, the contest, the start times, etc.)
You couldn't help but enjoy watching him ride more than someone who tried the most complicated link in the world put there foot down 20 times in 1:30 trying it, never ride out, and then want to win because they did something new. Of course this is just my opinion, but I think that's bullsh*t. If you're going to win at a pro level contest you need to be landing your tricks most of the time no matter what you're trying, period. At the time that wasn't the opinion of everyone though.
Some of the major criticism came from Ride's assistant editor, a guy not known for his, shall we say, unbiased journalism. Reading his op-ed got the feeling he was pissed that some close friends of his didn't place higher and he used his influence and position at Ride at the time to step up on the soapbox. Also, Martti and a few other guys also bitched and bitched and bitched the day OF the contest until Hoffman had to chance the rules mid-contest, which made flatland look even more ridiculous and an unnecessary pain in the ass to the guys signing the checks over at ESPN. That was the beginning of the end for us on a national stage and the beginning of the end of "pro" flatlanders in the US who could make a living solely attending contests.
The entire '99 X-Games incident was another instance of flatland shooting itself in the foot and another reason why ramp riding is probably 100x more popular these days. It was embarrassing and Perry was made the scapegoat unfairly.