Posts Tagged ‘Ayumu Hirano’

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.

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This X Games has been a test of priorities in my life. Showering and date night? Skip when there’s something cool. Motorcycle riding lessons and a photoshoot? I’ll catch the re-runs. No X Games on-line? I’ll find a TV (and I did). However, I still missed all of Ski Slopestyle, as well as the snowmobile racing events, so my last set of notes are a bit sparse. I tried to make up for it by being very thorough on the two events I did see. I would like to send my well wishes to Rose Battersby and Ashley Battersby, both of whom were injured in Slopestyle.

There hasn’t been any more news about Caleb Moore. His family has set up a fund to help with medical bills: click here if you’d like to donate.

Snowboard thoughts

  • Now that Shaun White has cut his hair, can he really be called “Animal” now?
  • All snowboard announcers need a lesson is pronouncing Japanese names. It’s Ayumu Hee-rah-no, not Hir-ann-no.
  • Poor Iouri Podladtchikov. He gets a stomach flu the day of finals.
  • That means, another showdown that never really was. However, we do get a glimpse of the new Shaun White versus Ayumu Hirano rivalry.
  • To put things into perspective, Shaun appeared in his first X Games when he was 13, and he got his first medal 15. He’s now the oldest competitor. Ayumu is the youngest at 14, which is the age of the students I taught in Japan. My how times have changed.
  • Scotty Lago definitely has the best style. He was the only one shown grabbing the board with both hands (100% committed).
  • Shaun broke the height record with a 24-foot method. He averaged around 17.5 feet. That’s about five feet higher than everyone else. He was also five points ahead. Coincidence? I think not. Shaun_White_zps7de8667b photo Shaun_White_zps7de8667b.jpg
    From Doug Pensinger/Getty Images (via Sports Illustrated)
  • A repeat of his perfect run from from last year got him a 98 even though it was bigger and cleaner. Snowboarding judges are going to have to turn into gymnastics judges and arbitrarily deduct points.
  • Louie Vito was having a rough night. His third run looked okay, but it wasn’t perfect.
  • Ayumu became the youngest medalist in X Games history. He definitely deserved it with his sick tricks and amplitude. I can’t wait to see more from this kid.
  • As the last rider to go before Shaun White, Scotty looked like he could set up a dramatic finale, but then he came in fast, put too much pressure on his toes, and didn’t even get to drop in.
  • Shaun was going to let Scotty take another run, but judges say no. Although that’s probably the fair things to do, it’s a MAJOR bummer.
  • I understand why Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe is the final event with all the star power, but it’s almost a given nowadays that Shaun White is going to win so it makes for an anticlimactic end to the X Games.

Snowmobile thoughts

  • Willie Elam needed to work on his flexibility, but he’s new to freestyle so the extension and confidence will come in time.
  • WTF was Jackson Strong doing there? He apparently had only been on a sled for four hours. I guess he really wanted to stake his claim on the Jack.
  • In an ironic twist, Jackson was okay from his fall (which looked really scary), but the runaway snowmobile claimed another victim.
  • The key to the underflip is to get sled perpendicular. Despite the his innovation and smooth landing, Heath Frisby scored lower than Daniel Bodin’s Indian air flip.
  • To be fair, Daniel did have crazy extension and went on the larger jump (which I guess counted for a lot). XGAspen13 - Day 4a photo bodin_zps17415ced.jpg
    From Joshua Duplechian / ESPN Images (via X Games official website)
  • Joe Parsons’ “gator hater”, which looked like an Indian air plus landing backwards on the bike, was insane! I would’ve given put him in first for the commitment, but maybe the judges docked points for how he barely hung on.
  • Heath and Joe were wearing Texas flags in support of Caleb Moore.
  • There was a reversal of luck from Day 1’s Freestyle contest to Day 4’s Best Trick. Levi LaVallee won Freestyle, and the last person who could’ve unseated him had snowmobile issues from a first run crash. On top of that, Daniel hurt his wrist. Later in the weekend, Levi got hurt and had to pull out of Snocross and Best Trick while Daniel ends up getting gold.

Special recognize goes out to the first ever six-peaters in Winter X history: Tucker Hibbert (Snocross) and Shaun White (Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe). Also congratulations to Nick Goepper (Men’s Ski Slopestyle), Mike Schultz (Snocross Adaptive), Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen (Women’s Ski Slopestyle),  Daniel Bodin (Snowmobile Best Trick), and Frank April (Real Snow Fan Favorite) on their wins!

Prediction Status: 5/10 – another improvement from last year even though there are less events
Quote of the Day: “Even though @scottylago fell before the first hit. It was still more stylish than 98% of pipe riding” – Todd Richards’ Tweet (It was technically the day after, but it was too good to not share. If you want snarky X Games commentary, follow btoddrichards.)
Trick of the Day: Joe Parsons’ gator hater
Inspiration of the Day: Ayumu Hirano – This kid has so much potential, and he’s now showing the world.
Question of the Day: What were you doing in the eighth grade?