It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I was stoked to catch all the action.  I got a little bit of deja vu with the addition Snowbike Best Trick, but this time around, the riders are on machines equipped to be on snow and the athletes seem more stoked about it.  Olympic years are always interesting, and what went down kinda changed my mind about who may be in contention for the gold.

Jack Mitrani’s post-show went to Facebook this year, and I really enjoyed the interactive elements.  I got a couple of shout-outs, and my silly comment about Henrik Harlaut’s pants even became a conversation topic (I’m waiting for it to make news again at the Olympics).

Best Female Athlete – Sarah Hoefflin (Ski)
Gotta give props to my fellow scientist! Sarah Hoefflin has a degree in neuroscience and took up skiing after not getting into med school.  Her backup plan is paying off as she got a gold in Women’s Ski Big Air.

Best Male Athlete – Henrik Harlaut (Ski)
Henrik Harlaut must not have slept very much over X Games weekend.  He scored a gold in Men’s Ski Big Air, which took place in the evening.  Then he got up bright and early to get another victory in Men’s Ski Slopestyle.  In between, he got to see two of his favorite rappers, Method Man and Red Man, in concert.  Henrik also deserves props for speaking his mind about the new Big Air format, which requires athletes to spin both directions.

Newcomer to Watch – Reira Iwabuchi (Snowboard)
The Big Air jump did not intimidate this pint-sized rookie.  Reira Iwabuchi stomped gnarly tricks early in the competition and proved to be a very strategic athlete by making sure she got both directions down early on.

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Snowboard Superpipe
The Men’s Snowboard Superpipe finals was an epic nail biter.  Ayumu Hirano threw down the first-ever back-to-back 1440s (Shaun who?), and Scotty James defended his gold as best as he could.  It wound up not being enough, but his score was close.  There was also Iouri Podlachikov’s horrifying crash (thankfully he seems to be doing better) and Ben Ferguson’s extremely tech run.

Best Trick – Marcus Kleveland’s Quadruple Cork 1800 (Snowboard)
Can you believe this history-making trick did not get Marcus Kleveland the win in Snowboard Big Air?  Not to discredit Max Parrot, who did a Cab Quad 1800, but the new scoring system didn’t favor Marcus so we’re gonna give him credit for being the first here.

Picture Perfect Moment – Boarding and Bokeh
Chase Josey during practice.  By Mark Kohlman/ ESPN
Normally I’m more interested in pictures that put the athlete in the forefront; without them, we wouldn’t have the X Games after all.  However, the bokeh in this shot is a major attention grabber, and it looks a lot like snow.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Stale Sandbech gets an SUV rental.
Let me preface this by saying I’m a terrible driver so this comes from a place of empathy.  I tried to learn how to drive on my mother’s Chevy Tahoe, and I live in Texas.  I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Stale Sandbech, who’s used to smaller cars, to navigate the tight Aspen roads.

Most Educational Moment – the X-tionary
I learned a new term—”bolts”—and it’s a new fave.  Hearing Jack Mitrani and Craig McMorris go over lingo was a lot of fun, and it was interesting to see how the terms differ between the disciplines (like when Diana Dahlgren taught them “wadded it”).  Maybe we’ll hear some over the Olympics?

Greatest Comeback – Brett Turcotte (Snowmobile)
While Mark McMorris’ recovery story was the comeback of weekend (and deservingly so), Brett Turcotte experienced his own life-threatening accident last year.  He lost over 50% of his blood in an FMX crash.  Not only did he come back to compete, but he won two out of the three events he was in!

Most Inspirational – Shred Hate
It’s been a year since X Games kicked off their Shred Hate initiative, but it remains a super important mission.  Having found my sanctuary in action sports, I was deeply moved by the athletes’ comments about their personal experiences as both the bullied and the bullies.  If we can change a small group of kids, that’s doing something to make the world better.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Marie Martinod (Ski)
By Phil Ellsworth/ ESPN Images
Although she could not repeat her victory, Marie Martinod still tried her best at her final X Games, having gone for a huge cork 1080.  We’re gonna miss this veteran skier after she retires at the end of this season, but she has sure inspired a bunch of young women with her boldness and resilience.  And maybe her daughter will one day pick up the poles?

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck to everyone heading over the Olympics! Speaking of which, I’m working with BreachTV to provide a recap series.  There will be lots of commentary on snowboarding and freeskiing so click here to check out my channel.


The International Motorcycle Show is back in town, and that’s reminded me that I never shared my photos from last year’s show.  Fitz Army was a new addition, and everyone was stoked at the high-flying action (and maybe a little worried that the guys were getting very close to the rafters).

I got to chat with Matt Buyten again, who had just become a new Texan, and my dad apparently recognized emcee Kenny “Taco” Bell.  I also met Cal Vallone and Jesse Jolson.
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I have several issues with Shaun White, who used to be one of my favorite snowboarders.  I’ve followed his career since we were both 14 years old, but over the years, I started to see the criticisms that the community had for him.  It was glaringly obvious at the U.S. Grand Prix this weekend, and Todd Richards has invited a discussion on Shaun’s perfect score.  I want to talk about another issue, one that is much bigger and yet no longer discussed.  In 2016, Shaun’s former bandmate Lena Zawaideh sued him for unpaid wages and sexual harassment.

They reached a settlement early last year, a few months before the Harvey Weinstein cases broke news and the #MeToo movement began.  I wonder if Shaun would have been let off the hook as easily because settlement or not, people are starting to take a stand against sexual harassment, especially in a workplace setting.  The texts that Lena used as evidence could be interpreted in different ways, but in some of them, Shaun is clearly behaving as superior.  Therefore, even if they were “joking” as he claimed, it is still unethical conduct as he is in a position of power.

The exchange is reminiscent of the viral short story “Cat Person”, which highlights a power imbalance between a man and a woman.  Even though Shaun is not much older than Lena and doesn’t hurl misogynistic comments in the texts (she does accuse him of such overall however), he does threaten to send her home for wearing an unappealing outfit and expresses “disappointment” in her decision to keep her hair long.  It’s the kind of language that borders on abusive.

Is this the kind of person we want representing our country?  Okay, this may be the wrong question to ask given who our President is.  The Summer Olympics is currently marred by the horrendous cases of abuse from the U..S.A. Gymnastics team doctor and the silencing of his victims, which included members of the famous Fierce Five.  The U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association should be doing more to take a stand, especially since they seem to have no problem with pressuring Scotty Lago to leave after risque but consensual photos of him were taken.  Should we only care about the athletes’ behavior only during the Olympics?

The snowboarding community hasn’t had the greatest track record with sexual harassment.  Although female snowboarders are finally getting the respect from peers, there are still the little microaggressions that happen behind the scenes.  Recently in a Shredbots video, Red Gerard, another member of Team U.S.A., jokes about wanting a “big booty ‘ho” for Christmas.  While he may have been quoting a song, it’s still discouraging to hear that come out of his mouth.  This is the sort of “locker room” talk that leads to men not facing consequences for harassing (or even assaulting) women.  It’s fine to joke, but we can do it without treating women, or anyone else, like garbage.  We can do better Team U.S.A.  We should do better.

One of my friends Julia, who photographs skaters in addition to pin-up models, shared a couple of really cool articles that give us a peek back into what surfing and skateboarding looked like in the 70s.  The two subcultures thrived in that decade, and it’s interesting to see what has evolved through the years.

The Digital Trends article outlines how film editor Doug Walker got his hands on boxes of discarded negatives from Surfing Magazine and began to piece together the stories behind each photo, which were taken by some of the most well-known surf photographers in the 70s.  He’s compiled them in the book The Lost & Found Collection: Volume one and made a documentary.  Now he’s working on a second volume while continuing to share some of the tales on-line.


Big Honolua Bay by Shirley Rogers (

i-D talks to a photographer from the 70s for their piece on the skate scene.   From 1975-1978, Hugh Holland followed young skateboarders as they traversed the growing competition scene and started getting sponsorships.  The result is a documentary of how the sport was beginning to evolve from a casual hobby of surfers to the Olympics-bound discipline it is today.


By Hugh Holland/ M+B Gallery (

I’m a big fan of honoring our roots, and both articles provided a great link to the past.  It makes me wonder what skateboarding and surfing will look like 40 years from now.  We gotta hang onto our photos so that we can find out in the future.

This was not how I wanted to return to posting.  I was getting ready to write a post this weekend, and then I got the horrible news.  Yesterday, BMX legend and all-around awesome guy Kevin Robinson died from a stroke.

I’m gutted.  Not only am I still dealing with the  passing of Dave Mirra and more recently, Nicky Hayden (in additional to other losses), but I knew Kevin.  He was one of the first action sports athletes I met, and my brother and I followed his career diligently for the past 17 years since we saw him pull off the first no-handed flair at the 2000 Gravity Games.

In 2001, a BMX show took place near Fort Worth, and we begged my mom to take us and made posters.  Kevin Robinson was the biggest name there so my brother made a sign that said, “Texas wants to see a flair”.   I’m not sure if the photos my mom too are still around (I printed out a couple and saved the one below), but I’ll never forget my first action sports event.  Then we got Pat Miller’s autograph.  My mom saw Kevin talking to someone in the distance and actually yelled his name.  I will be eternally mortified (because my mom knows nothing about BMX and I didn’t want to bother him) and grateful.  He was super nice and even gave my brother advice on how to bunny hop.  It was one of the best days of my life.

kevin robinson

Throughout the years, my mom would still ask us about Kevin when we watched the X Games.  We cheered his record-breaking moments and victories and grew alarmed at his injuries.  I was sad to learn that he retired before I could see him ride again, but I had always hoped to catch him at X Games Austin.  Although that never happened, we did interact very briefly on social media a couple of times.  He liked my posts and responded to a suggestion I had for his anti-bullying program.

That brings me to one of the things I admired about him.  Kevin was a great role model and philanthropist.  He also was an advocate for traumatic brain injury research, having suffered many concussions and lost two friends (Junior Seau and Dave Mirra) to the tragic effects of chronic brain encephalitis.  My current career is in TBI research, and I’m going to keep working hard so that maybe there will be a breakthrough in how to help riders recover and how to make things safer.

My heart really goes out to his family.  His social media was often filled with praises for the various accomplishments of his kids and love for his wife.  I also feel for his BMX family, as he has mentored and inspired many riders.  He inspired me too.


Photo from Kyle Carlson (Instagram)

At X Games Austin 2016, he led a touching tribute to Dave Mirra.  I know we’ll be paying tribute to him in a similar way, but in the meantime, we’ll have to take time to process this tragic loss.  Ride in peace, K-Rob!

A while back, I promised more about female Iranian motocross riders Noora Naraghi and Behnaz Shafiei.  Today I’m delivering with some bonus information about women learning to surf there.  The action sports scene is going strong, and these women are not letting patriarchal rules hold them back.

In 2009, along with eight other women (including her mother), Noora Naraghi competed with the men and rode out in front for the women. She competed against her mom, seven other women, and men in the MX2 division.  Her entire family rides, and her husband is stoked about the achievements she has made.  Noora set her sights on the U.S., and in 2010, she got her AMA license (the first Iranian to do so) and competed races stateside.  She worked with top female racers Stefy Bau and Ashley Fiolek while here and has taken the new knowledge to coach more women in Iran.

By Caren Firouz/Reuters

Behnaz Shafiei‘s career is full of firsts as well.  This year, she hosted and won Iran’s first female-only race.  She has also received support from family and strangers alike.  As evident with the New York Times article my friend showed me, Behnaz is gaining a lot of attention worldwide.  She even has a commercial for Georg Jensen.  Her trip to the U.S., however, taught her the need for sponsorships and licensing to compete abroad, and she is currently raising money through a gofundme to pursue her dreams.

Going from the desert to the ocean, French surfer and filmmaker Marion Poizeau introduced the sport to Iranian women four years ago.  The idea was somewhat of a coincidence, as it was a male friend who wanted to explore the untouched surf of Iran.  He missed his flight, and Marion and the third member of their party decided to make it a girls’ trip.  The locals became interested.  When she returned in 2013, she connected with two female Iranian athletes, Mona Seraji and Shalha Yasini, thus beginning “We surf in Iran” classes.

By Marion Poizeau

Coming full circle, Noora posted on her Instagram about a surfing instructor course.  Iranian women are probably embracing other action sports, as evident with Ana Lily Amirpour’s vampire skater girl protagonist in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.  Let’s hope these women keep ripping and pushing for more freedom, just like their American counterparts.

Hello, anybody here?  I know I meant to return earlier, but life and my mind had other plans.  Blogging and photo editing just haven’t held my interest even with my favorite topics.s  However, I’ve been meaning to tie up loose ends, and I am hoping that this will generate enough momentum to continue this blog.  I’m just gonna step back from the X Games recaps and “awards” (especially since I can’t watch as easily) to cover some other aspects of action sports.  But loose ends first, you can revisit my previous X Games Austin 2016 recaps here and here.

The last day of X Games Austin 2016 was bittersweet.  We knew it was the last day for X Games to be in Austin (at least in the near future), and rather than ending on a high note, the weather decided to be jerky in a different way.  Despite the clear skies, the wind was too strong for Big Air.  They waited to the last minute to make the announcement so you could tell that everybody wanted to make things work.  I know people are angry about cancellations and the end of X Games’ contract with COTA, but I would rather the athletes be safe and able to do what they came out to do.

BMX Dirt

    • First runs were pretty solid for most of the guys.  Second and third runs had them taking more risks.
    • That led to TJ Ellis hurting his shoulder.  Mike “Hucker” Clark ran down the ramp to check on him.  I thought that was pretty cool since it’s a long way down and he was up not too long afterward. day4_4104
      See, Hucker did not run out of energy.
    • Kyle Baldock went HUGE but crashed out at the end.
    • The announcers kept mentioning how old Cory Nastazio is.  It was supposed to emphasize what a legend he is, but it just sounded insulting.
    • Kevin Peraza threw the sickest lawn-dart frontflip ever.

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Obviously I wasn’t expecting to go on hiatus again since I was in the middle of X Games Austin posts. It was a big snowball of work, other hobbies, politics, and yes, lack of motivation that kept me away. I’m looking to reignite the spark for blogging, and I’m gonna try to plow through these X Games posts (I may be skipping the 2017 winter events).

Just to refresh your memory, here was my previous post about the first two days of X Games Austin 2016.  Saturday was a supposed to have been a busy day, but the weather had other plans. The rain kept coming and going so events got moved to later in day or postponed until Sunday. With how frustrated I felt as a spectator, I can only imagine how much worse it was for the athletes.

Women’s Skate Street

  •  I didn’t get to catch much of women’s skate street because it started pouring shortly after the comp began.
  • Also, due to the raised stage, I couldn’t get a good view of the rails without going onto the grass (which I’m allergic to).
  • It was cool seeing some of the women, especially Mariah Duran, help clean up the course later on in the replay.  They at least were in good spirits.
  • Later I learned that the spines on the fake cacti were actual screws.  Are they trying to make this more dangerous?!

The one upside to the rain was that while seeking shelter, I was able to meet Jamie Bestwick and get his autograph.  He really likes Austin so he was bummed that this was the last year (and he didn’t fault me for missing BMX Vert this year).

He’s so tall and I’m so short that I wasn’t sure we’d fit in the frame. Read the rest of this entry »

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.