Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

We’ve reached the end. . . reluctantly. I have some great memories of being at the X Games, and I got to re-live some of it by watching all the replays.  In case you missed any of my recaps, here are the links: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Also, if you want to see more photos, mosey on over to my Flickr.

Best Female Athlete – Alexis Sablone (Skateboard)
Nobody was more on point in the Women’s Skateboard Street contest than Alexis Sablone. She took risks and it paid off with her solid skating.

Best Male Athlete – Daniel Sandoval (BMX)
What a weekend it was for Daniel Sandoval. First he blasted through the Park course to win gold, and then he came in Dirt as an alternate, overcoming nerves to lead the pack for a good portion of the finals.

Newcomer to Watch – Mykel Larrin (BMX)
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Another BMXer who had a great time was Mykel Larrin. After a good performance in Vert, he came into Big Air as an alternate and walked away with silver, and this was his second X Games.

Most Dramatic Finals – tie between RallyCar Racing and Stadium Super Trucks
I couldn’t decide between all the events, but eventually I narrowed it down to one that was fantastic in person (despite the elements) and one that made me excited at home.  There’s the joke that “with age comes the cage”, but both Rally and Stadium Super Trucks have produced more carnage than any race I’ve seen.

Best Trick – Thomas Pages’ Bike Flip (Moto X)
Although this was another tough category, I had to give it Thomas Pages. He shouldn’t be doing that kind of stuff on a dirt bike, and yet he rode away in this debut event.

Picture Perfect Moment – Shaded view of BMX Vert  photo josh20duplechian_zpswjs2risw.jpg
By Joshua Duplechian/ESPN. From xgames.espn.go.com
I thought it would be unfair to select one of my photos so I picked my favorite from another photographer. I’m still a little biased since this was my parasol. Nevertheless, it was quite an impressive shot to get from the middle of a crowd, and he was nice to not disturb me (red hat) and my parents (camo hat and tan hat).

My favorite from my own is the one of Bob Burnquist doing his one-footed switch ollie over the MegaRamp gap. You can see clearly the commitment, as well as the difficulty.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Travis Pastrana rides a mechanical bull XG2015 09
Getting to see Travis Pastrana take on the mechanical bull made standing in the sun totally worth it. He did it twice too since he didn’t want to be shown up by a couple of little kids.

Most Educational Moment – Burt Jenner teaches us about acceptance and pronouns
I was irked by the fact that X Games asked Burt Jenner about Caitlyn in the middle of the Stadium Super Trucks; that was probably the last thing on his mind. However, Burt demonstrated a lot of grace and showed that it’s okay to mess up pronouns as long as you apologize and try your best. I think the X Games commentators could have learned a lot from this instance.

Greatest Comeback – Maria Forsberg (Moto X)
Having a baby is a tough job. That’s not something I would have realized until I saw several of my peers juggle pregnancy and raising a kid with their daily lives. Therefore, I have to give Maria Forsberg props for coming out of retirement and then placing 5th in Women’s Enduro X final.

Most Inspirational – Colton Satterfield lands the double flair and gives a moving speech in BMX Big Air
Watching Colton make history and land the double flair on his final attempt, the last run of the night, was such a magical moment. Then he took it a step further and talked about how last year’s gold made him realize that he had the power to inspire others, and that’s what he came out to do this year. His conversation with Jack Mitrani on X Games Extra was making me tear up because it exemplified what drew me into action sports.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Bob Burnquist (Skateboard) XG2015 Big Air Doubles04
How have I gone so long without giving the winningest X Games athlete this award? I guess it’s because Bob Burnquist is still going strong. He added too Big Air gold medals to his collection while dealing with a broken arm. Nothing has held him down and nothing can, and more than anyone, he truly deserves his honor.

Congratulations again to all the winners and really props to all the athletes! I have a new-found appreciation for how hard they work. Get well soon to everyone who got banged up. Thanks to everyone who signed autographs and stopped for photos; y’all truly made the experience even more special. That’s all for now. See you in Aspen (virtually— not sure I can brave the cold just yet… maybe one day).

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Since we had to get home by Sunday night, I was incredibly grateful that my parents let me check out Big Air Doubles before heading out. Initially I was envisioning something like Skate Doubles from a few years back, but that didn’t seem like a safe idea. The event wound up being basically Big Air with alternating BMX and skateboarding. It was still a lot of fun to watch (Big Air always is), and the teamwork aspect did make the athletes think about their runs a little differently.

Big Air Doubles

  • I loved the idea of bringing in two different disciplines. Not only did the athletes become motivated in a new way, it also helped dispel the idea that some sort of rivalry inherently existed between skaters and BMXers.
  • What would the teams have been like had the athletes been allowed to choose. Also who knew whom before this event?
  • The best spot to be was righty under the gap because I could see tricks over it and on the quarterpipe (the crowd was thinner). Plus it was the high-five zone.
  • Can I just say props to all the athletes for coming by to give high fives instead of taking the golf carts? They didn’t have to spend the energy to do so, and that made all of us even more stoked.
  • Bob Burnquist and Elliot Sloan were so on point. I was so stoked to have captured Bob taking his foot off during his switch ollie.
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  •  The skaters had a lot of early successes, but then the BMXers started busting out huge tricks.
  • My mom said that my dad and I appeared on TV, but I didn’t see us during the replay.
  • Steve McCann has a very frightening crash—the worst I saw over the weekend. He wound up in the hospital but later posted on Instagram that he was okay and pretty stoked on getting silver thanks to a previous run. XG2015 Big Air Doubles05
  •  Jake Brown wasn’t having much luck over the weekend in terms of landing tricks. He gave it his all though.
  • Bob and Morgan Wade, a.k.a. “Team X-Ray”, chose to sit out their last runs. Despite what we learned from previous contests, it was probably the best. Morgan hit his knee hard, and even if he didn’t look it all weekend, Bob did break his arm. They both were in good spirits though and even traded equipment.

After the competition, my dad and I went to see if the Moto Pits were open. Unfortunately the riders were getting ready for Best Whip and Quarter Pipe so they closed off the area. We passed by the MegaRamp on our way out and saw several of the athletes still hanging around for autographs and photos. I thought that was really rad. I was able to get photos with Bob, Morgan, and Colton Satterfield (flash was off so I couldn’t tell when my dad pressed the shutter, hence me looking awkward). Since I was one of the last people, I didn’t get to chat very much, but Morgan said his knee would be okay. I just missed Tom Schaar, as he dashed away on his skateboard, leaving his mom behind to carry the luggage. Teens will be teens.
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My first X Games experience was a dream come true. Even if I didn’t get to do all the things I planned, the unexpected moments—namely the athlete interactions— made up for that. I’ve covered most of my complaints/things to note if you go, but I’ll add that the food situation sucked for vegetarians. Maybe the Clubhouse Café had more options, but the stalls and trucks did not. Another annoyance was that the people who sold drinks often shouted over the announcers and standing in the way of the ramp. I appreciated the water refill stations though. They were always full so you didn’t have to buy water if you brought your own bottle.

Six out of my thirteen predictions were right, which isn’t that great but we had some surprises. I’m going to wrap things up with my tradition of the “eXponential Awards”, and with those, I’ll include the events I wasn’t able to catch. It’s been really fun recapping this amazing experience. I’m already planning for next year and would love to have travel buddies (I think my parents are done despite the fun they had).

I was probably the only person not stoked about Metallica playing Saturday night. It’s not that I don’t like them, but they should not be your sole reason for going to the X Games. Although I have no problem with casual action sports fans or non-fans coming into the scene with an open mind, I do take issue with people talking loudly in the middle of an event or taking the good seats because James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett are playing the national anthem, only to leave before we even get to the finals. Plus there were so many people smoking in areas where it was not allowed. Although the rude individuals who didn’t care about rules or action sports made me grumpy, I still had a great full day of X Games.

RallyCar Racing

  • So much dust! VIP probably got it the worst because they were right at the first turn. The visibility was so bad that drivers were hitting each other and even missing the jump.
    XG2015 RallyCar Racing02
  • I almost want to agree with my mom about how watching this on TV would be better because you’re not choking on dirt and can see the carnage up close. However, it’s not as exciting. Also I never fully understood the joker until I saw how it affect all the different positions. TV focuses on a few cars and areas so you don’t get the big picture of the strategy that goes into rally.
  • Ken Block and Travis Pastrana had really bad luck. So did Patrick Sandell. I felt for him because he fixed whatever was leaking in his car, but they wouldn’t let him back on the track due to broadcast time limits. I thought that was a pretty lame reason.
  • Scott Speed got reckless at the end of the final, but he was gonna finish first so we don’t need a bumper anymore, right?

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First I have to give a shout-out to Skype for giving me two extra tickets. My parents got to enjoy X Games with me and hang out in the Gold Lounge when they needed a break. It was the best deal ever, and it was all because I hopped in the chat.

Second, I wound up not going to Thursday’s Step-Up competition because I thought you had to buy tickets. It turned out that tickets were for the reserved area. I wish the X Games site had made that clearer, but it was probably better because parking was probably a nightmare.

Speaking of parking, if you’re there for the entire weekend, getting a pass on-line is a fantastic deal. It wound up being a little over $10, which was how much people were charging to park in the middle of a field half a mile away. You don’t want to be walking in a field on the side of the road late at night after Big Air; you could step in a ditch or cow poop. Okay, onto the events…
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BMX Vert

  • That green parasol you see in the crowd footage was us. It really helped us endure the heat.
  • My dad picked up on what the judges were looking for really quickly: amplitude, flow, style, and difficulty. The only thing he may have missed were the technical tricks that don’t look as big. I was impressed because he called most of top 5.
  • My mom might not have understood what was going on, but she was stoked for DMC because he’s 48 and still going strong.
  • I had no idea that Chad Kagy was injured until later on. He rode really well.
  • 540 flair— I couldn’t even register what had happened because all I could see was spinning. There’s no slow-mo in real life so you have to be quick. Seriously though, Vince Byron killed it. Everything was so solid.
    XG2015 BMX Vert15
  • Simon Tabron was also on fire that day. He had some of the biggest airs.
  • Jamie Bestwick put up a good fight but seemed a bit off in terms of height and rhythm. I loved the back-to-back-to-back flairs though. As he is known for being competitive, it was cool to see him pass the mantle over to Vince via personally handing him the gold.

(more…)

I debated about making predictions since I wouldn’t necessarily call these educated guesses (it’s always harder for me to keep up with summer events due to schedule conflicts).  Also because I’m going to be at the X Games, I anticipate changes to my posts wrapping up the event.  Nevertheless picking winners is always fun, and I do have previous years to go on so here’s what I’ve got:

BMX Dirt – Kyle Baldock
BMX Park – Daniel Dhers
BMX Vert – Jamie Bestwick
BMX Big Air – Morgan Wade
Moto X Step-Up – Ronnie Renner
Moto X QuarterPipe – Thomas Pages
Moto X Speed and Style – Mike Mason
Rally Car Racing – Scott Speed
Skateboard Street Women’s – Alana Smith
Skateboard Street Men’s – Nyjah Huston
Skateboard Big Air – Edgard Pereira
Skateboard Park – Pedro Barros
Skateboard Vert – Pierre Luc-Gagnon

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!  Now although I’ve already covered how action sports has crossed into the fandom, I can’t help but add this little tidbit on.  It seems that X Games Austin has decided to celebrate May 4 with photos of a Stormtrooper doing some BMX flatland tricks.
 photo as_xg_storm3_2048_zps6kedswnt.jpg
By Sandy Carson (X Games)

Who’s the rider underneath the helmet?  Why it’s Brian Tunney!  Click here to see more fun photos of him in costume.

Moving onto another corner of geekdom, I happened to catch “Assemble”, a mini movie by Samsung and Marvel and guess who’s assumed Thor’s mantle?  John John Florence!  I can’t think of a better candidate with aerials so high he may as well look like he’s flying, a chill attitude, and yes, “godly hair”.  It’s also quite fitting that the man who plays the Asgardian is an avid surfer himself.

While John John is the only action sports pro in the team, the movie also features mechanical engineer Sasha Blanc working on and riding a motorcycle and the adorable Bobby Martinez getting to the rendezvous point on a skateboard.  I think it’s safe to say that action sports and Avengers go pretty well together… though if we were to assemble a super hero team made up of action sports pro, who would be in it?

In an unfortunate turn of events, I wound up being out of the state just as the X Games came to Austin.  Despite catching bits and pieces of the live footage and keeping up with results on-line, I had to mainly watch the replays.   Not that it kept me from handing out my awards to the best of the best.  I’ve already made up my mind to go next year, and I’m already looking forward to it.

Best Female Athlete – Emma Gilmour (Rally)

Given how many sexist female driver comments I’ve heard from my own friends and family, I can only imagine how much adversity Emma Gilmour has faced.  The RallyCross community seems to really support her though, and she drove well, making it to the semis and unlike many of the guys, she didn’t crash once.

Best Male Athlete – Chase Hawk (BMX)
Even though I have some strong criticisms about BMX Park (mainly WTF judges?!), Chase still rode really well.  He was super smooth and remained cool under the eyes of his hometown watching.  You did Austinno, Texas proud!

Newcomers to Watch – Jimmy Wilkins and Alana Smith (Skateboarding)
I couldn’t pick between the two so we have a tie.  I missed Alana’s record-breaking Street debut in Barcelona, but she’s still one of the young’uns and definitely has the star power to be the female equivalent of Ryan Sheckler or Nyjah Huston.  As for Jimmy, the youngest Skateboard Vert winner, he killed it!  There has been much doubt over the new generation of skaters, but Jimmy is proving that they have the versatility and amplitude to rise to the top.

Most Dramatic Finals – Skateboard Big Air
With everyone taking an all-or-nothing approach, it was an exciting competition. Edgard Pereira unleashed a never-before-seen trick, and a point determined the difference between bronze and silver, silver and gold. In a very touching conclusion, the youngester Tom Schaar gets the gold handed to him by his friend from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
 photo EI_259752_060614_Big-Air-Final_003_zps8b1486a4.jpg
Cameron Copeland and Tom Schaar. From mystatesman.com

Best Trick – Kyle Baldock’s front flip (BMX)
The highlight of Kyle’s winning run in BMX Dirt was the beautiful front flip. Most guys tuck before they launch themselves off the ramp, but he stretches out, which makes him look like he’s going in slow-mo.

Picture Perfect Moment – Blue Hour BMX vert by the Capitol
XGAustin14-2 photo XGamesAustin8KgZiWq1o16l_zpsd43dc29c.jpg
By Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America (from Zimbio)
The Blue Hour is a term in photography for the brief time in the evening when the sky is this vibrant blue. Simon Tabron’s white tires provide a striking contrast while the State Capitol provides a dramatic backdrop.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Female riders check out the street course (BMX)
With a disappointing lack of women in the summer events, X Games made a huge step forward by inviting Angie Mariano, Perris Benegas, and Nina Buitrago to ride the BMX Street course. Ride BMX got a video of them practicing with the guys, and hopefully this means we’ll see a women’s division in the future.

Most Educational Moment – Sport Science breaks down Jamie Bestwick’s front flip flair

The front flip flair seems inhuman, but with physics, Sport Science proves that it is feasible. I’m glad there is some method to the madness.

Greatest Comeback – Taddy Blazusiak (Moto X)
Several times during the Men’s Enduro X final, the identity of the winner seemed to be uncertain. Taddy recovered from his bobbles though and held off many challengers, proving why he’s the dominant force in the sport.

Most Inspirational – Colton Satterfield rallies for Big Air and wins (BMX)
The wind was so strong that Freestyle Moto X was canceled. The same could have happened for BMX Big Air if Colton had not taken the initiative to get his fellow riders to do it for the crowd. If battling Mother Nature wasn’t enough, he unleashes a sick no-handed corked 720 barspin to triple tailwhip. Definitely the night’s hero.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Ronnie Renner (Moto X)
 photo Renner-Step-Up-X-Games_zps9463cef4.jpg
By Drew Ruiz/KTM (motorcycle-usa.com)
Ronnie Renner has ten medals in Step-Up, five being gold. He’s also a world-record holder and one of the veterans of FMX. At Austin, he showed no signs of slowing down by easily grabbing gold #5 (check out the height from his GoPro), and we got to see some of those signature dance moves that made him one to watch over ten years ago.