Hello there, I’m back!  My hiatus was unplanned with some unexpected life changes and the problem with my old editing program.  However, I’ve got a new version of Paint Shop Pro, and I’m slowly trying to get back in the habit of blogging while handling increased work responsibilities.  X Games Austin has come and gone, but we still have the memories so let’s revisit them, shall we?

I didn’t head to Austin until Friday due to work and lack of events prior to Friday afternoon, but I did catch Step Up and Flat-track on TV.  So here were some of the things I noted.

Step Up

  • I was bummed to miss out on Step Up again since this year was Matt Buyten’s last.  I’ve been following his career for more than 10 years, and he’s just an awesome guy.  Unfortunately he got knocked out pretty early.
  • Bryce Hudson has “Soap Boy” on the back of his jersey, which was adorable.
  • It was interesting to see who was close friends with whom.  The cameras kept showing Bryce and talking with Jarryd McNeil (and even giving him pointers) while Matt was chatting with Ronnie Renner a few times.
  • Matt and Ronnie’s friendship must be like a trip through the history of Step Up.  Both guys have a ton of jumps under their belts.
  • I could not believe this was Jarryd’s first X Games Step-Up competition.  He flew so high.
  • I was not a fan of the shared gold medals.  While I understood the time limits with live TV, it felt SO anticlimactic.  It would have been awesome to see how high Jarryd and Libor Podmol could have gone.  I was stoked for both winners though.

Flat-track Racing

  • I didn’t get the hype over it.  It’s just not as exciting as say, motocross.  Also I don’t know why they didn’t have women’s racing too.
  • Tough luck for last year’s winner Bryan Smith.  He crashed around the first turn and took another guy out.  I thought he could gain some ground, but once you’re out, you’re out.  The 20 laps went by super fast.
  • Redemption for Jared Mees was clearly the headline for the night.

After the weather (and my parents) threatened to make Austin a no-go, we made it and it was freakin’ hot and sunny.  The earlier rain had made Dallas cooler so I thought it would be the same.  Nope.  I got to COTA as Skateboard Vert under way, and the skaters were flying high despite the heat.

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I spoke too soon about life not kicking me in the butt.  I still haven’t even watch all the X Games Oslo recaps I found, and now we’re less than a week away from Summer X.  Hopefully going to Austin will recharge me.  I’m also working on a writing plan in order to get back to regularly scheduled updates.  Unfortunately the photo editing program I’ve been using for years is no longer compatible with my current computer so there will still be some delay until I figure out whether my back-up program is enough.

In case you need to reacquaint yourself with action from this past winter, here are the links to my daily recaps: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I will be finished with adding all the non-X Aspen shots to my Flickr album so check it, along with my Youtube clips.  Now onto my picks for the best moments!

Best Female Athlete – Spencer O’Brien (Snowboard)
This gold has been a long-time coming for Spencer O’Brien.  She rode smoothly throughout the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle finals and had both technical tricks and big spins.

Best Male Athlete – Fabian Bösch (Ski)
Really all the competitors in Ski Big Air deserve mad props for delivering on a night that caused other events to be cut short.  Fabian Bosch didn’t let rookie jitters or the snow keep him from throwing down a triple.

Newcomer to Watch – tie between Kelly Sildaru (Ski) and Darcy Sharpe (Snowboard)
Obviously I have to mention Kelly Sildaru for killing it in Women’s Ski Slopestyle at the ripe young age of 13.  However, I also need to recognize Darcy Sharpe for throwing down the method as the first trick of Snowboard Big Air.  He knows what’s important, and he’s gonna go far. 

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski Superpipe
This had all the makings for a movie.  All eyes were on Gus Kenworthy, who achieved a personal best and led a good portion of the finals.  One last skier remained, Kevin Rolland, and he threw down a stellar run worthy of first.  Kevin himself seemed surprised, and to cap things off, his coach ran all the way down the massive halfpipe to congratulate him.

Best Trick – Joe Parsons’ Parsby flip
I saw this in person, and I still have trouble believe that it happened.  Pure nuttiness is what it was.  Just click here and see you for yourself.

Picture Perfect Moment – The road to gold isn’t always a breeze.
 photo wxg16-1_zpss9zsnepw.jpg
By Brent Lewis. From The Denver Post
The athletes often appear fearless and capable of everything.  Matt Ladley’s expression shows that isn’t always the case.  You can’t blame him with how bad the conditions were.  It’s a good reminder that all these amazing folks are still human.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Colten Moore reads Catching the Sky at a local bookstore.
I thought it was really cool for the Aspen community to meet one of its biggest stars, especially someone who’s most definitely not from town like Colten.  Although I was planning to get the book, listening to him talk about it made me want to read it even more.

Most Educational Moment – Intel provides data on Big Air tricks
This was a nice treat for people who couldn’t watch in person (I was kind of jealous actually).  By providing information on spins and height, fans get a little more insight into how scoring works and friends who happen to be on the couch with us can get a little more snowboarding 101.

Greatest Comeback – Maddie Bowman (Ski)
After spending the off season in surgery, Maddie Bowman had only been in the pipe for a month before she grabbed her fourth X Games gold.  Moreover, she became the first woman to throw down a switch 900, a trick she only learned two days ago. 

Most Inspirational – Gus Kenworthy (Ski)
To all the critics who wondered why Gus Kenworthy needed to come out, his silver medals in Slopestyle and Superpipe are proof that it is important.  You could see that he’s been unburdened, finally able to express himself.  He also took the time to interact with fans after Slopestyle and on-line.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboard)
 photo wxg16-2_zpsyfqch0xs.jpg By Peter Foley. From First Tracks!!
Lindsey Jacobellis has been a name I’ve associated with gold since I started watching boardercross.  Her victory (by 0.041 seconds) makes her the most winningest female athlete in X history with ten victories.  Even though she has had some hard times, she always pushes througha true inspiration for girls everywhereand she looks like she isn’t slowing down any time soon. 

Congratulations again to all the winners!  As with my experience in Austin, I have even more respect for what these athletes do.  It was so hard to just see them sometimes, and you don’t get a sense of how big everything is until you’re right next to it.

day2-dad0336 Hey, this bench looks familiar.

Aspen was a ton of fun, but I’m not sure I’ll be back next year just due to costs and the possibility of getting snowed in again.  I wanna take time to plug the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, one of the places I visited during my extended stay.  What they do is really cool, and we have to remember that we have to protect the mountains.

Alright we’ve reached the end of my day-to-day recaps of X Games Aspen. I’m going to do my eXponential Awards review, and then we can finally move onto Oslo (and hopefully life won’t kick me in the butt again).  Sunday had non-stop snow again.  Visibility wasn’t as bad as Saturday, but the athletes still struggled and my mom refused to come out even during the day.
I took this on the shuttle ride to Buttermilk since I’d never seen this much snow, not even when I lived in northern Japan.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle

  • Jossi Wells got a well-earned gold.  Like Spencer, he’s been at X for a while, but this is his first win here.
  • I think Jossi is younger than me, but they kept making him sound like an old man because he’s married with a dog.  His family actually brought the dog out.
  • I loved the little touches Bobby Brown put in his runs.  He did okay, and it seemed like he was ready to just head out.  However, he did stop to say “hi” to people and thank me when I complimented him.
  • Joss Christensen skied with a broken hand.  He usually uses poles so not having them was a little weird, according to him.  The awkwardness showed.
  • Our Olympians had a really rough time overall.  Then Gus Kenworthy put together a sick run on his third and final attempt.
  • For all the hate Gus got for coming out in a such a public way, he has helped freeskiing.  Not just with making it a more accepting place, but he’s brought in new fans.  He knows that responsibility comes with visibility because he took the time to greet fans and take photos.
    day4-dad0374 Gus was stoked on the flag.  Mission accomplished.
  • Also, for the bad rep that “fangirls” often get, they were super nice and encouraged me to get up to the front with them at the end so that Gus could see my rainbow flag.  Gus’ mom saw it first and gave me a thumbs up.  I’m glad he has such a supportive family (especially since I had kind of an awkward conversation with my parents about why I brought the rainbow flag).

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Saturday in Aspen was when the weather started to go south.  The early morning brought rain, which thankfully let up in time to go see Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle.  However, the slick conditions combined with overcast skies proved to be very tricky.

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle

  • The course was super fast so everybody was messing up their first attempts.  Except Eric Willet and Sebastian Toutant, who threw down a banger of a run that would get him silver.
  • Darcy Sharpe and Sage Kotsenburg had the best rail section, but unfortunately they couldn’t land all their jumps.
  • Mark McMorris had some strategy going into his second run: taking some speed checks so he could stay in control.  It paid off because that second run was solid gold.
  • Apparently Darcy’s mom had a dream that he and his sister (freeskier Cassie Sharpe) got X Games invites before they actually got them.  She went ahead and booked a flight and hotel that morning, and she almost regretted it because of the cost.  His impression of her was adorable.
  • Newcomer Mons Røisland had some bobbles, but his huge jumps on his last run allowed him to sneak past Eric into third.
  • Mark’s third run was his victory lap, and he ended with a solid method.

After slopestyle, my parents and I went back to town.  I had read in the paper that Colten Moore was doing reading and signing of his new book, Catching the Sky, at Explore Booksellers and wanted to see him.  Ironically, he did an event in Dallas in February too, but Aspen was way more convenient for me.  His friend (manager?) said I should go to both, haha. I got him to sign my Texas flag and a copy of Catching the Sky.

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I’m really sorry for lagging on these updates.  Life has been throwing curveballs ever since I got back from Aspen; I wasn’t even able to watch all the replays before ESPN took them down.  In any case, Friday was the most jam-packed day so I hope to be back to posting more regularly.


Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle

  • The bummer about seeing Slopestyle in person is that you only get a view of the money booter, and if you’re not press or VIP, you’re way in the back.  Also annoying kids on the ski lift above us liked to purposely shake snow off their boards onto our heads.
  • Despite this, I enjoyed the atmosphere.  Everyone rode well.
  • Hayley Langland’s rail game was on point.
  • Spencer O’Brien got a well-deserved gold.
  • Later in the afternoon, I wound up meeting Christy Prior at the Lifeproof booth, and she said it was a really great day to ride.
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I know I’m late on these, but I hope they’ll get you amped about X Games Oslo.  Being stuck in Aspen for a couple of days after the X Games was great… until I got back home.  I haven’t had much time to sit down and consider how these posts would differ from my Tumblr updates.  It’s going to mostly be the same, but I hope you stick around for the photos and some additional facts that I remember.

To preface this adventure, I’d like to give you some perspective.  If you’ve followed freestyle snowmobiling at Winter X, then you know about the Moore brothers.  They’re from Krum, which is an hour from where I am.  If you remember all those remarks about how they’re not used to the cold or the altitude, you can apply those to them.  North Texas gets snow a couple times a year, and it’s super flat.  Therefore I arrived in Aspen with some trepidation but much excitement.
day1-dad7637  Aspen Airport knew what was going on.

It turns out that Aspen in the day felt like Dallas without the wind chill.  The altitude proved to be a bigger issue.  That combined with my bad health and lack of sleep led to a headache that put me out of commission for most of Thursday.  However, I was able to participate in the Skype group chats with Sage Kotsenburg and Tom Wallisch.  Here’s what I learned (asterisks were answers to my questions): Read the rest of this entry »

It is with great sadness that I halt my X Games recaps for this post.  Most of you probably have heard the news, but in case you haven’t, action sports legend Dave Mirra died yesterday from what appears to be a suicide.  When I was in Aspen, I was thinking about how I hadn’t seen much from him and how I missed his presence. Then I read what happened, and my heart has been aching for his family, his friends, and the community.

I never met Dave, but he was one of the key figures in my early years of watching the X Games and other related contests.  He was the epitome of an athlete, someone who worked hard to reach the top of the podium.  I remember those fierce showdowns with Jay Miron and Jamie Bestwick.  When he pulled the first double backflip in X Games BMX Park, I went nuts.  This was a guy who pushed the limits, the “Miracle Boy”. He took BMX to another level.

Dave was also a friendly face that helped action sports reach a broader audience.  I remember the friendly banter that happened between him, Ryan Nyquist, and Dennis McCoy in the behind-the-scenes features of various BMX tours.  Dave was always like someone who didn’t quit.  When he retired from BMX, he did rally.  After that, he trained for triathlons.    No matter what he did, he put 100% and it showed.

At the end of the day though, it’s not the number of gold medals you have or world records you set.  It’s the impact you have, and last night, I couldn’t help but tear up at all the tribute posts fellow athletes, BMX and other, and even non-action sports folks shared.  He touched so many of us.

Death is an unfortunate aspect of action sports, but Dave’s shocked us all.  It’s one thing to hear about someone having an accident while doing something they live for; it’s another to hear that they’ve taken their own life.  It’s a sobering reminder of how people who seem to have it all, who put on a smiling face, may be hurting deep inside.  I worry about the other athletes because we hardly ever hear about their troubles and because I have to wonder if the effects of brain injury played a role.  That’s something to ponder when our grief has subsided a bit.

A couple days ago, Dave posted on his Instagram: “Fight to win!  We all have a battles [sic] to fight.  Never back down.  Love you all.”.  We might not ever understand what has happened, but we have to try to reach out, to support one another, to push for answers if it can save a life, and to live.  Rest in peace, Dave Mirra.  We’ll miss you, but we’ll never forget you.



In a few days, I’ll be in Aspen, but before I jet off, I want to make my predictions.  This year’s Dew Tour surprises made it harder for me to settle on a name.  Here’s what I’m going with:

Ski Big Air – Henrik Harlaut
Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Gus Kenworthy
Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Dara Howell
Men’s Ski Superpipe – David Wise
Women’s Ski Superpipe – Maddie Bowman
Snowboard Big Air – Yuki Kadono
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Ståle Sandbech
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Christy Prior
Men’s Snowboard Superpipe – Iouri Podladtchikov
Women’s Snowboard Superpipe – Chloe Kim

I won’t be doing another post until I get back, but I might just do some quick and dirty updates on my Tumblr or Twitter, depending on the internet situation.

While I hate starting off the year with a downer, I also think it’s important to remember the lives our community has lost.  They would want us to move on, but let’s not forget their contributions.

On May 16, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt died in a wingsuit flight accident at Yosemite National Park.  Potter was a well-known pioneer in climbing and BASE jumping.  Hunt was an up-and-comer in the scene and Potter’s long-time flying partner.

The Nitro Circus family lost one of its own on September 28.  Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident during the opening ceremony of a celebrity golf tournament.  The ski-BASE jumper reached fans from any action sports disciplines due to his involvement with Nitro Circus.

October 1 saw another wingsuit fatality.  Johnny Strange, a BASE jumper and the youngest person to climb the seven summits, died at the age of 23.

In early December, downhill skateboarding and street luge legend Biker Sherlock took his own life.  The link I put includes info on how to donate to his family.

Lastly, Japanese motocross rider Cloud Toda died in a foam pit fire.  He overcame great odds after an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and was practicing whips in hopes of getting into the X Games.

We will miss all of these individuals, but their spirits live on as we are reminded to seize each day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I was having a hard time getting into the spirit until I saw a couple of posts from the X Games that gave me the warm fuzzies.

The first is a continuation of a story I shared in my last Facebook Findings post.  The X Games spoke to Jeanean Thomas and her daughter Peyton about the random act of kindness they experienced at the skatepark.  The skater who helped Peyton out has been identified as Ryan Carney, who worked at a skate shop.

Ryan Carney

By Judee Richardson Schofield/ The Cambridge Times

I did a little digging and discovered that this isn’t the first time Ryan has given back to the community.  The Cambridge Times revealed that he participated in a petition to keep the Pipes and Rails skate park open and often tries keep the parks a safe and welcoming place for everyone.  Talk about a great role model!

The X Games Facebook page also shared a video that truly delighted me.  My favorite thing about Christmas is all the different versions of The Nutcracker.  Ballet Austin’s version invites special VIPs play the role of Mother Ginger, a comedic character who has eight gingerbread children pop out of her skirts.  BMX rider Morgan Wade was one of the guest stars this year, and it’s safe to say that he brought a lot of enthusiasm to the role.