Archive for the ‘X Games’ Category

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.

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Okay I lied about doing a wrap-up of X Games Minneapolis 2018 (although I do reference it a lot below).  You can revisit those memories here: Thursday recap, Friday recap, and Saturday/Sunday recap.

X Games Sydney was super rad even if the time difference didn’t allow me to join in live.  I was supposed to have this up before X Games Aspen, but it’s been a busy couple of months.  In any case, enjoy this look-back at the inaugural Australian X Games event.

Best Female Athlete – Mariah Duran (Skate)

Mariah Duran had an awesome year in 2018, and it’s been a long time coming.  She showed that there was more than luck involved in her Minneapolis win by upping the ante and nailing all her tricks.

Best Male Athlete – Tom Pages (Moto-X)
Like Mariah, Tom Pages was out to prove that his victory in Minneapolis wasn’t a fluke.  He overcame a quickly deteriorating course and a crash in his first run to throw down his signature mind-blowing tricks, plus a no-handed double backflip, to get his second gold.

Newcomer to Watch – Dawid Godziek (BMX)
Another individual who conquered a muddy course was BMX Dirt’s Dawid Godziek.  While others put down a safety run to ensure a top spot, Dawid hucked it huge and became the first Polish athlete to medal and win at X Games. (more…)

Saturday was jam-packed with events.  We wound up taking a break in the middle.  Unfortunately that led to missing a good portion of the BMX Dirt finals because there weren’t a lot of restaurants open on the side of town close to the stadium.

MOTO X STEP UP

  • Bad luck for Bryce Hudson, getting eliminated first and dislocating his shoulder.  Then he proposed to his girlfriend and she said “yes” so he still won in the end.
  • Colby Raha showed that you also need to remember to go forward, as well as up, to clear the bar.
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  • Jarryd McNeil could’ve gone a few feet higher, but he did what was necessary to get the gold.  Later I learned that he didn’t immediately go to the interview/waiting area because he threw up from nerves.  Hopefully next year will be more relaxing (as much as that is possible for Step Up).

WOMEN’S SKATEBOARD STREET

  • Mariah Duran was on fire!  She’s really upped her game.
  • Leticia Bufoni and Alexis Sablone were the most consistent in landing their runs.
  • My parents opted to not watch the finals due to all the misses/falls in the qualifier.  They missed out on a great competition, and everyone was landing their tricks.
  • I came with a mission to get Lacey Baker to sign her “Push with Pride” print.  At first, she didn’t notice me, but the guy next to me called out to her.  Thank you fellow fan!  She looked tired so we didn’t talk, but I appreciated that she did take the time to sign autographs.
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BMX DIRT (more…)

Friday was jam-packed with events, and I got Floor Access too.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten when access started, and the ticket didn’t say when.  One volunteer said I could go down in the morning so that’s what I did.  Then I got kicked out of one area, forbidden from another, and then invited in the media platform behind the photographers for a portion of the Women’s Skateboard Street Qualifier.

Women’s Skateboard Street Qualifier

  • The skaters seemed really chill even if it was a tight competition for the final qualifying spots.
  • Nanaka Fujisawa did really well for a newcomer (and a young’un).
  • Mariah Duran was ON.  Both of her qualifying runs were among the highest scoring.
  • Then there’s Alexis Sablone, whom you can count on for hitting some of the biggest tricks.
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Being on the floor was too nerve-wracking so I decided to head back up for to join my parents to watch BMX Dirt Qualifiers.  Unfortunately, all the doors look the same, and I got lost, wound up where all the athletes were, and then finally found another elevator with some VIPs.  As a result, I missed a chunk of the BMX Dirt Qualifiers but I caught the second runs.

BMX Dirt Qualifiers

  • Everybody was pulling out all the stops.  Who was going to enter the final kept changing up to the very end it seemed, and some  former gold medalists like Ryan Nyquist and Kevin Peraza didn’t make it.day2_4057
    You can always count on Kevin for great extension.
  • When did cash rolls and tailwhip backflips become staples?
  • My mom knows nothing about action sports or how scoring works for any event, but she was very impressed with Brian Fox’s first run.
  • Dawid Godziek was a name I wasn’t familiar with, but I’m gonna remember it how huge he went.

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Since X Games Sydney is happening right now, I thought I would hustle and finally get around my X Games Minneapolis recaps.   It’s not going well, and I can make excuses, but I’m gonna hunker down (without missing the action from Sydney).  Minneapolis was so different from Austin, both the city and the Games.  Although everyone was stoked that we’d be indoors, the stadium format makes me feel more distant.  As a result, getting Floor Access was SO worth it.

Vert, however, was outside.  Thankfully the rain had stopped a couple hours before the first event started.  We were in the back at first since we got there kind of late, and with it being nighttime as well, I don’t have as many photos this time around.

Skateboard Vert

  • Bucky Lasek was off his game and falling a lot.  Later we learned that he had a migraine.  Once I looked up to see if I had a migraine or just a severe headache, and knowing what the symptoms are, I have to give Bucky all the props.
  • Sandro Dias… talk about a comeback!  He was so close to landing a 900.
  • Somehow, my two photos that turned out okay were both of Marcelo Bastos, the number one qualifier from the previous night.
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  • It makes so much sense that Jimmy Wilkins’ mom is a ballet dancer.  He’s so graceful and has great extension.  Long legs help, but knowing your lines takes it to a new level.
  • Moto Shibata had some of the sickest, most difficult tricks, but he didn’t get enough amplitude to take the lead.  I thought he was scored a bit low though.

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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.

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).
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  • 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).

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He’s so tall and I’m so short that I wasn’t sure we’d fit in the frame. (more…)

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?
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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.
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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.
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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.