Archive for the ‘News and Events’ Category

If you’ve followed this blog or known me, you know I’m an advocate for social justice.  I have long wondered if I should talk about racism in action sports, but that’s a tricky one because some sports are more diverse than others.  There are programs like Burton’s Chill Foundation and Black Girls Surf addressing the inequality, but the industry as a whole, like the majority of America and the rest of the world, has remained mum about systemic racism, notably the unjust killing of Black individuals by police.  Until now.

Even though #BlackoutTuesday was mostly an act of performative allyship, it’s a step.  Non-Black athletes who have never brought up race posted a black square in solidarity.  The message did get lost when Black athletes posted the square too.  We should be hearing from them.

X Games recognized this need to amplify Black voices, and they doubled down on Instagram after getting criticisms for their support of the Black Lives Matter movement with quotes from their Black competitors.  The boldest was this quote from skater Ishod Wair:

This country is so disgustingly and blatantly racist. The vale [sic] has been pulled for the world to see once again that the system never meant to protect us. Failing to put rules in place to stop the madness not even acknowledging the serious issue at hand. If we don’t come together things won’t change.”

X Games have since gone back to their regular programming, but maybe we’ll see a bit more diversity in the athletes featured and invited.

Another skater they quoted was Nyjah Huston, who went out to protest.

 

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WE WONT BE UNHEARD!! JUSTICE IS A MUST😤

A post shared by Nyjah Huston (@nyjah) on

Nyjah has also talked about being 1/4 Black yet raised in a Rastafarian household and what that has meant in terms of identity. (more…)

In addition to being the final day of competition, Sunday was Marvel Day.  As that was advertised beforehand, the cosplayer in me couldn’t resist tossing in my Loki horns made by Korov Creations.  I got interviewed by the Marvel booth, but maybe I was a little too much since I didn’t make the montage.   Oh well, I still got a free keychain.

My Moto X Seatgrab pass was also an invite to a special walk-through of the flattrack course, featuring Lance Coury.  It’s amazing how hard the staff worked to remove all the jumps overnight.
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My goal was to finish this before X Games Aspen 2020, but that didn’t quite happen.  Better late than never, right?  The trade-off is that you get a ton of photos because I was present at X Games Minneapolis almost all of Saturday and got great seats for some of the comps.

Saturday was Women’s Day, and I wanted to show my support for the female BMX riders boycotting X Games due to the lack of a competition.

I’ll make a different post about their fight, but my little form of protest actually led to me making a new friend.  So my plan kinda worked in that it brought women together in support of other women, yay!

BMX Park

  • The riders kinda had it tough because no one was pre-qualified, and the finals immediately followed the semifinals.  Everyone did well, but only half the field could proceed.
  • Larry Edgar blasted through the course, as expected, but he didn’t get the scores to move on.  We saw him go to the stands to watch the rest of the contest.
  • Two guys I was unfamiliar with, Jose Torres and Rim Nakamura, definitely impressed me.  Rim especially was on fire!
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  • Logan Martin definitely had his eyes on the repeat win.  He was solid all the way through, and now he’s the first BMX Park rider to get consecutive golds. (more…)

I’ve been neglecting this blog, but the X Games Twitter‘s year-end recap reminded me that I never did my recap of Minneapolis (i.e. I was slacking on photo editing).  As we near 2020, I’m making plans to start posting again.  Let’s consider it one of my resolutions.

Anyway, for 2019, X Games Minneapolis changed its ticketing format.  That led to additional passes being required for Thursday, which meant I missed out on the vert events and Moto-X Step-Up.  I was bummed since I liked watching those.  On the plus side, I did run into silver medalist Bryce Hudson while browsing X Fest on Friday.
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Another change was the scheduling so I also had Friday morning free to explore Minneapolis.  X Fest was open all day and had a bunch of things to do outside of watching the competitions.  However, that’s what we’re focused on so let’s get to it.
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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

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.

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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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!

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.

From ESPN

From ESPN

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.