eXponential Awards – X Games Aspen 2019 edition

Posted: April 4, 2019 in X Games
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Newcomer to Watch – Zoi Sadowski-Synott (Snowboard)
Although those of us who followed the Olympics learned about Zoi Sadowski-Synott, she was relatively unknown until this X Games.  She entered the Slopestyle finals as alternate and wound up taking home gold, her second one of this year after getting silver in Big Air.

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle
There were new faces, great comebacks, and old faves.  The competition was so tight that we can debate all day on the placings, but Rene Rinnekangas won everyone over with his sick style and genuine elation at his results and Mark McMorris’s third run closer was definitely a cinematic finale.xgaspen19-2
Mikey Cicarelli was another new face who had a solid performance all weekend.  Photo by Trevor Brown Jr. (ESPN)

Best Trick – Fridtjof Tischendorf’s frontside 720 hand drag… with a backpack! (Snowboard)
Knuckle Huck may not be easily understood by the casual viewer, but die-hard snowboard fans were cheering at the creativity being demonstrated.  Rising above them all was Fridtjof Tischendorf who provided his own soundtrack with his backpack speakers.

Picture Perfect Moment – Last look from Kelly Clark
X Games Aspen 2019 - January 26, 2019
Photo by Phil Ellsworth (ESPN)
A picture really is worth a thousand words.  Or in this case, a twenty-year career (with who knows how many wins).  Although much of action sports photography is about the excitement of big tricks or unique lines, there is meaning in stillness.  

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Mini film festival
For the first time, X Games included screenings of action sports films in their official schedule.  Although it was only available for people actually in Aspen, the screenings and subsequent Q&As shined a spotlight on a different group of action sports athletes and the amazing work they do.

Most Educational Moment – What goes on in Axell Hodges’ head?

My last two research positions have been in the field of neuroscience so I was super stoked that Harley Davidson worked with researchers to see what made both athletes and motorcycle enthusiasts able to have their laser focus. The description was something I could relate to even as a novice: I struggled to drive due to essentially “forgetting” that I was behind the wheel whereas I was hyper vigilant on my motorcycle.

Greatest Comeback – Mons Roisland (Snowboard)
Three years ago, Mons Roisland got bronze in his X Games and became one of the hottest riders in slopestyle. Although he found success elsewhere, a second X Games medal eluded him until this year. From the get-go, he brought the tech skills, the amplitude, and the style that earned him another bronze.

Most Inspirational – Ayana Onozuka (Ski)
Athletes compete during 2019 X Games Aspen in Aspen, CO. ©Brett Wilhelm/ESPN
Photo by Joshua Duplechian (ESPN)
Ayana Onozuka’s retirement was glossed over, but she was pioneer for Asian women in freeskiing as the first female Japanese skier to win an X Games medal and the owner of a ski school. When I was at X Games Aspen a couple years back, I met two Japanese journalists who came specifically to interview her. She’s represented her country and female skiers well, and it was cool to see her high-five the crowd on her last trip down the X Games Superpipe.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Kelly Clark (Snow)
This one was an obvious, given the illustrious career Kelly Clark has had and the touching finale X Games provided her with. Regardless of gender, she’s one of the most dominant snowboarders in history, and her comeback from a personal low after winning her first Olympic gold is a truly inspirational one. She helped knock down so many barriers for female snowboarders and led by example so that as she says herself, the future is in good hands.

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