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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.

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This weekend I was at the mall, and guess who I saw sporting a rainbow in the window display at H&M?  Gus Kenworthy! The skier has teamed up with the clothing brand as part of their Pride Out Loud campaign.  H&M will donate 10% of sales of their pride line to United Nations Free & Equal.

It’s hard to ignore Gus these days, especially now that it’s Pride Month.  He and fellow gay Olympian Adam Rippon co-hosted the TrevorLIVE New York Gala on Monday and lit up the GLAAD Media Awards in April with a kiss.  They also talked with Good Morning America on what “Pride” means to them.

Gus isn’t the only action sports athlete sporting the rainbow. Skater Brian Anderson posted this picture of himself on Instagram:
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Last year Brian and Lacey Baker were featured in Nike’s BETRUE campaign. Lacey herself collaborated with Sam McGuire for a pride-themed photo. Proceeds benefit victims of the Pulse shooting through the onePULSE Foundation.
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Five years since my post about queer athletes, I still think action sports can be more gay. However, I’m stoked to see athletes be able to express themselves more openly and participate in Pride events with support from their peers and fans. I know they’ve inspired many queer kids because as a queer adult, I feel inspired to wave the rainbow (quite literally with Gus). I hope to see more rainbows in the next five years (and maybe some campaigns with trans action sports athletes?).

This particular post should actually be titled “Facebook and Tumblr Findings”.  Social media was made for cute animals.  As a result, I started to collect photos and videos of critters on skateboards.

One of the first I came across was a cat named Boomer featured on the page CATMANTOO.  After some digging, I learned that Boomer holds the Guinness World Record for Longest Human Tunnel Traveled Through by a Cat on a Skateboard (yeah it’s that specific).

Boomer learned how to push off the board himself so all he needs is a board and occasional help with steering.  A recent video also shows him skimboarding.  What a talented kitty!

Not to be outdone by their natural enemy, some mice have started shredding on fingerboards. Granted, there may have been more set-up involved, but this photo series by David M. Gallo on Tumblr is pretty sick. Check out one below.
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It’s not just mammals though. Tumblr brought me a shredding baby bird, also on a fingerboard, courtesy of grumsal (click the link—you won’t regret it). More recently, my Facebook feed contained this video of a turtle getting a boost on a board:

It was a small terrapin so it also used a fingerboard, but I wonder if there are any videos of bigger turtles on regular skateboards. If you find any, send me a link!

Recently a friend tagged me in a link that featured this rad video:

Italian motorcyclist Luca Colombo rode across Italy’s third largest lake, Lago di Como, on a modded Suzuki RMZ 450.  The video has been blowing minds all over the internet, but anybody who has watched motocross movies has seen riders glide their way at least partly across a body of water.  It’s just a matter of physics and something we encounter on a rainy day.

The phenomenon is known as hydroplaning or aquaplaning (depending on which continent you’re on).  Most of us know it from that scary moment while driving when the car starts to slide on a wet road.  What’s happening is that the speed at which the car is traveling creates pressure under the tires.  At a certain point (NASA calculated an equation for this in 1963 but the speed is in knots), the pressure under the tires equalsand eventually exceeds—the weight of your car, lifting it off the road.  As there’s less friction between your car and the water, you end up feeling like you’re sliding.

The same thing happens when motorcyclists glide across a pond.  A bike’s light weight may make the feat seem easy, but narrow tires cause the weight to be distributed across a smaller area, making it more likely to sink.  Plus since a rider is intentionally hydroplaning, they also have to consider the transition from land to water.

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From HYDRO MX’s Facebook page

Luca had some help to keep his Suzuki afloat.  You can see ski-like blades attached to the wheels, which increase the area of distribution of weight.  The back tire also has treads designed to push him across the surface of the lake.

The end result is a battle of forces and a rider who has enough skill to control all of them.  The image below is based on Robbie Maddison’s Pipe Dream video.  Click here to see how he does it on one of the biggest waves.

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From Business Insider

If you’re not quite ready for spring, why not relive the magic of the Winter Olympics with my recap series for Breach TV?  Here’s an “episode guide” on which action sports events I cover:

There were a lot of things I could have said, but I was asked to do an overview of all the different events.  Also I live-blogged the events I was able to catch live on my personal facebook (with some comments on Twitter).  Now that I’ve taken a long enough break, look forward to more posts, some winter sports-related and others looking forward to the summer.

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
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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)
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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).
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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.

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Big Honolua Bay by Shirley Rogers (thelostandfoundcollection.com)

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.

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By Hugh Holland/ M+B Gallery (i-d.vice.com)

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.

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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.

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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!