I’ve been listening to The Monday M.A.S.S. podcast, and in a recent episode, the hosts Chris Coté and Todd Richards discussed the mandatory helmet rule for under-18 competitors in Olympics-sanctioned park and street skateboarding events.   Based on what I saw in the X Games Shanghai replays, X Games doesn’t have such a rule.  World Skate, however, does, and last year, Jagger Eaton was disqualified as a result of the head of delegation of the Brazilian Federation of Skateboarding filing a complaint.

There’s a lot to unpack with that particular incident, especially as Jagger’s DQ allowed Brailian skater Murilo Peres to advance to the finals.  The idea of filing complaints fuels the criticisms of skateboarding’s inclusion into the Olympics.  There’s bureaucracy, regulation, and competitivenessthings directly in opposition to skating’s free-wheeling, anti-establishment rules.  I’m not sure the complaint was filed out of concern for Jagger’s safety but rather a seizing of the opportunity to advance.  Not exactly cool.

However, safety is something to consider.  The brain is still developing in adolescents, and although helmets don’t prevent brain injury, they at least protect the skull, which in turn protects the brain and also doesn’t finish growing until adulthood.  Last year, a pilot study was published in Frontiers in Neurology that revealed adolescent mice with a mild brain injury don’t suffer worse effects from a subsequent injury.  Their skulls do get changed, which could be a means of protection from future injuries or a consequence of development being altered.  There isn’t a clear answer, and this is just one study.  Also, note that they specified “mild” TBI.

Skateboarding is going to reach a broader audience with the Olympics.  Not everyone is going to have someone to teach them how to fall properly or access to skateparks where you don’t have to worry about cars and random obstacles (I mean, I used the back of the couch as a balance beam after watching gymnasts in the 1996 Olympics).  It’s better for the competitive skaters to set an example for young kids whose development may be impacted by injuries to the skull and brain until we obtain more information the consequences of early TBI.

References
McColl, Thomas J et al. “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Adolescent Mice Alters Skull Bone Properties to Influence a Subsequent Brain Impact at Adulthood: A Pilot Study.” Frontiers in neurology vol. 9 372. 25 May. 2018, doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.00372

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Before I kick off my overdue X Games Aspen recap, I would like to congratulate Frank Bourgeois, William Demers, and Charles Demers on their Real Snow 2019 victory.  I also want to link this cool article about inclusion in the X Games.  It leaves out queer representation, which is still mostly just Gus Kenworthy, but their musical host Hannah Rad is openly LGBT and had a prominent role in the TV broadcast.

Best Female Athlete – Kelly Sildaru (Ski)
This year, the teenage ski sensation proved to be a triple threat.  Not only did Kelly Sildaru qualify for all three events, but she earned a complete set of medals this weekend. 

Best Male Athlete – Daniel Bodin (Snowmobile)

Daniel Bodin is no stranger to the X Games podium, but it’s been a hot minute since he got a medal in Freestyle.  The odds were against him, as he was dealing with an injury.  However, he fought hard and got that gold.

Read the rest of this entry »

While watching the stream of the Burton U.S. Open, I was getting very frustrated at the misogynistic trolls in the chat.  Then during one of the breaks, there was a beacon of hope.  I learned that for as long as women have been competing in the U.S. Open, they have had equal prize money.

Unfortunately, as common as this is in snowboarding, it’s not the norm.  From tennis to hockey to even skateboarding, there is a gender wage gap.  Hell the World Cup women’s soccer champions earned far less than their lower-ranked male counterparts.  Donna Carpenter, co-C.E.O. of Burton Snowboards, said that equal pay was an obvious choice, and so I decided to recognize the efforts of her and the company to elevate women in snowboarding.

This isn’t the first time Burton has come up in a Feminism in Action (Sports) post.  The company has sponsored many female riders and made sure that equal energy is put into promoting them.  The company has outreach programs, and Donna even participated in the Global Sports Mentoring Program.

A lot of discourse on sexism in sports focuses on ability of the athletes and harassment, but the business side is just as important.  Both Donna and Jake Burton Carpenter (obviously a great feminist himself, seeing as how he took her last name and worked with her to build his company) admitted that Burton wasn’t immune to the pitfalls of patriarchy.  Over a decade ago, they noticed that less than 10% of company leadership was female.  It reflected in their content, as their Love line of boards featuring photos of nearly-nude women drew lots of criticism.

After talking to employees of all genders, Jake kicked off the Burton Snowboards Women’s Initiatives in 2003.  Then a year later, Donna started the Burton’s Women’s Leadership Initiative to tackle issues women face in their careers, like finding resources for childcare, biased hiring processes, and lack of mentors.  Currently 45% of upper management at Burton is female.
burton
There’s nothing wrong with pin-ups on boards, but snowboards featuring iconic women like Salt ‘n’ Pepa in a non-objectifying manner are a much more welcoming sight.  This was created in 2014 and designed by JesseHectic. 

Even if they don’t explicitly use the word “feminism”, Burton’s blog affirms a mission to uplift women around the world. They even paid for employees who wanted to travel to the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.

Burton Snowboards wouldn’t be what it is without Donna Carpenter, and the company truly demonstrates words and actions that are feminist.

Check out some inspiring interviews with Donna:
REI – “Burton CEO Donna Carpenter Prioritizes Gender Equity On and Off the Slopes”
The Inertia – “Burton’s Donna Carpenter Is Changing the World”
Conscious Company Media podcast

 

Okay I lied about doing a wrap-up of X Games Minneapolis 2018 (although I do reference it a lot below).  You can revisit those memories here: Thursday recap, Friday recap, and Saturday/Sunday recap.

X Games Sydney was super rad even if the time difference didn’t allow me to join in live.  I was supposed to have this up before X Games Aspen, but it’s been a busy couple of months.  In any case, enjoy this look-back at the inaugural Australian X Games event.

Best Female Athlete – Mariah Duran (Skate)

Mariah Duran had an awesome year in 2018, and it’s been a long time coming.  She showed that there was more than luck involved in her Minneapolis win by upping the ante and nailing all her tricks.

Best Male Athlete – Tom Pages (Moto-X)
Like Mariah, Tom Pages was out to prove that his victory in Minneapolis wasn’t a fluke.  He overcame a quickly deteriorating course and a crash in his first run to throw down his signature mind-blowing tricks, plus a no-handed double backflip, to get his second gold.

Newcomer to Watch – Dawid Godziek (BMX)
Another individual who conquered a muddy course was BMX Dirt’s Dawid Godziek.  While others put down a safety run to ensure a top spot, Dawid hucked it huge and became the first Polish athlete to medal and win at X Games. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s that time of year again, when the International Motorcycle Show returns to town and I remember I still haven’t shared photos from the previous year (I promise I’ll be better).  I’m not going this year due to a busy schedule.  Honestly, last year’s show didn’t catch my interest.

Even the FMX demo felt low in energy.  To be fair, Fitz Army had two members injured, one in Dallas specifically.  I talked to the guys, and they mentioned the ceiling being too low for their set-up, hence the lack of variation on tricks.  This is probably a reason contributing to their absence for 2019.  Nevertheless, Anthony Murray and Cal Vallone did their best to put on a good show, and Matt Buyten wasn’t too bad as a newbie on the mic.
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There were some cool motorcycles on display, including ones from the 1940s and World Superbike champ Jonathan Rea’s Kawasaki Ninja.
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One of my faves was a custom painted bike that was a tribute to a kid with mastocytosis, a condition where mast cells (which are responsible for triggering an allergic reaction) accumulate in various organs.  The disease is rare and not well-studied.  The bike design is based on the mast cells.  It’s an unusual look, and I appreciate the efforts in raising awareness.
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Click here for more photos

Saturday was jam-packed with events.  We wound up taking a break in the middle.  Unfortunately that led to missing a good portion of the BMX Dirt finals because there weren’t a lot of restaurants open on the side of town close to the stadium.

MOTO X STEP UP

  • Bad luck for Bryce Hudson, getting eliminated first and dislocating his shoulder.  Then he proposed to his girlfriend and she said “yes” so he still won in the end.
  • Colby Raha showed that you also need to remember to go forward, as well as up, to clear the bar.
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  • Jarryd McNeil could’ve gone a few feet higher, but he did what was necessary to get the gold.  Later I learned that he didn’t immediately go to the interview/waiting area because he threw up from nerves.  Hopefully next year will be more relaxing (as much as that is possible for Step Up).

WOMEN’S SKATEBOARD STREET

  • Mariah Duran was on fire!  She’s really upped her game.
  • Leticia Bufoni and Alexis Sablone were the most consistent in landing their runs.
  • My parents opted to not watch the finals due to all the misses/falls in the qualifier.  They missed out on a great competition, and everyone was landing their tricks.
  • I came with a mission to get Lacey Baker to sign her “Push with Pride” print.  At first, she didn’t notice me, but the guy next to me called out to her.  Thank you fellow fan!  She looked tired so we didn’t talk, but I appreciated that she did take the time to sign autographs.
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BMX DIRT Read the rest of this entry »

Friday was jam-packed with events, and I got Floor Access too.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten when access started, and the ticket didn’t say when.  One volunteer said I could go down in the morning so that’s what I did.  Then I got kicked out of one area, forbidden from another, and then invited in the media platform behind the photographers for a portion of the Women’s Skateboard Street Qualifier.

Women’s Skateboard Street Qualifier

  • The skaters seemed really chill even if it was a tight competition for the final qualifying spots.
  • Nanaka Fujisawa did really well for a newcomer (and a young’un).
  • Mariah Duran was ON.  Both of her qualifying runs were among the highest scoring.
  • Then there’s Alexis Sablone, whom you can count on for hitting some of the biggest tricks.
    day2_4048

Being on the floor was too nerve-wracking so I decided to head back up for to join my parents to watch BMX Dirt Qualifiers.  Unfortunately, all the doors look the same, and I got lost, wound up where all the athletes were, and then finally found another elevator with some VIPs.  As a result, I missed a chunk of the BMX Dirt Qualifiers but I caught the second runs.

BMX Dirt Qualifiers

  • Everybody was pulling out all the stops.  Who was going to enter the final kept changing up to the very end it seemed, and some  former gold medalists like Ryan Nyquist and Kevin Peraza didn’t make it.day2_4057
    You can always count on Kevin for great extension.
  • When did cash rolls and tailwhip backflips become staples?
  • My mom knows nothing about action sports or how scoring works for any event, but she was very impressed with Brian Fox’s first run.
  • Dawid Godziek was a name I wasn’t familiar with, but I’m gonna remember it how huge he went.

Read the rest of this entry »

Since X Games Sydney is happening right now, I thought I would hustle and finally get around my X Games Minneapolis recaps.   It’s not going well, and I can make excuses, but I’m gonna hunker down (without missing the action from Sydney).  Minneapolis was so different from Austin, both the city and the Games.  Although everyone was stoked that we’d be indoors, the stadium format makes me feel more distant.  As a result, getting Floor Access was SO worth it.

Vert, however, was outside.  Thankfully the rain had stopped a couple hours before the first event started.  We were in the back at first since we got there kind of late, and with it being nighttime as well, I don’t have as many photos this time around.

Skateboard Vert

  • Bucky Lasek was off his game and falling a lot.  Later we learned that he had a migraine.  Once I looked up to see if I had a migraine or just a severe headache, and knowing what the symptoms are, I have to give Bucky all the props.
  • Sandro Dias… talk about a comeback!  He was so close to landing a 900.
  • Somehow, my two photos that turned out okay were both of Marcelo Bastos, the number one qualifier from the previous night.
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  • It makes so much sense that Jimmy Wilkins’ mom is a ballet dancer.  He’s so graceful and has great extension.  Long legs help, but knowing your lines takes it to a new level.
  • Moto Shibata had some of the sickest, most difficult tricks, but he didn’t get enough amplitude to take the lead.  I thought he was scored a bit low though.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Can we keep politics out of it?” is a phrase often repeated but not quite fully understood.  I say that as someone whose existence is political.  I’m the queer daughter of immigrants, and as as result, I can’t keep my politics out of action sports.  Whether the lack of exposure of female athletes or the choice of vocabulary that directly affects LGBT kids in a negative manner, I’m going to challenge the status quo of our community.  Nowadays, the pros are taking similar views, whether it’s Gus Kenworthy coming out in such an open manner or Colton Satterfield leaving Monster Energy for religious reasons.

I’ve previously posted about action sports athletes championing environmentalist causes.  It’s a great example about how politics is tied with the culture.  Winter and water sports depend on the existence of natural environments, which are legislated upon through policies regarding climate change, pollution, and protected areas.  Then you have motocross sitting on the other side with riders protesting restrictions on fuel emissions (although innovations in electric bikes and four-strokes are providing a compromise) and where they can ride.

Politics doesn’t have to refer to the issues of one particular country’s government.  Imprimatur examines the decisions, trends, and identities that affect the economic. social, and creative aspects of BMX.  A lot of its articles remind us that a component of BMX involve making money, whether it’s pro aspirations or being able to access footage of other riders.  Sometimes it does get into the larger scope of things, especially with Chelsea Fietsgodin’s essays about microaggressions and the use of certain symbols.

If you know me or this blog, you know that I have a very specific point of view, and it’s obvious at how I’m trying to avoid expressing my strong opinions.  I could make an entire post about how I’ve had to cut ties with friends in the community and unfollowed certain athletes specifically due to their opinions on certain sociopolitical issues (and how they’ve expressed it).  The point of this post in particular is to challenge the notion that politics can be left out of action sports.  That’s a privilege only some can enjoy, and it might be taken away so…
43340005_1464558923677618_6491474164573011968_o Graphic by Violet DeVille

There’s even a site dedicated to getting American skaters to vote.  The deadline to register to vote for this year’s midterm elections, which are important (laws on all levels affect usjust think about city ordinances and skate parks), is today in some states and inching close in the rest. So if you haven’t registered yet, plug your info into Skaters Vote.

I won’t lie about how difficult it is to be an informed voter, but there are great resources out there (sample ballots and voter guides are your friend) and even if you choose to focus voting on one issues, that’s a start too.  We’re a community of revolution, and we now span multiple generations so we can get our voices heard and make the world a better place.

I had another post planned, but I’ve been trying to get my ducks in a row so that I can go to Minneapolis later this week for the X Games.  Therefore, I’ll make it a short but sweet one with another recount of action sports-related things I’ve found on Facebook.  This one relates to people in the arts and skating.

If you don’t know about the Hamilton musical, get out from under a rock and go check out the soundtrack.  This ain’t your mama’s Broadway musical!  An article that the Hamilton Facebook page shared caught my eye because it described writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who would star as Alexander Hamilton, skateboarding in the dorm where he stayed with director Thomas Vail and composer Alex Lacamoire.  Although I could not find a recent photo of Lin skating, here’s one from 10 years ago when his first Broadway musical In the Heights was playing.

The other artist I saw with a skateboarding-related post in on a board in a different way. Former burlesque dancer Cat de Lynn was featured on a deck.  Beautiful women on decks is not new, but not only was this someone I knew, but this was a creation by a team of women.  It would be really awesome if the skater was also a woman.

burly board.jpg From Boardpusher.com

This is the last update before the X Games.  Be sure to follow Jeniverse Writings on Facebook and JeniverseAbr on Twitter for the latest update from Minneapolis this Thursday through Sunday.