Posts Tagged ‘eXponential Awards’

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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X Games Aspen 2015 has been quite the game changerfor both action sports and for me personally.  I decided to immerse myself in the social media experience and as a result, had the time of my life.  It’s really unbelievable how much social media has changed the X Games experience.  It allows us to connect to fellow fans from all around the world, staff who can give us a behind-the-scenes peek, and even the athletes.  When this year’s competitors weren’t busy Instagramming and Tweeting, they participated in some of the most intense battles for first, resulting in a lot of progression and the changing of guards.

Best Female Athlete – Chloe Kim (Snowboard) Despite some criticism for having to be reminded to grab (let’s just hope she was just nervous), Chloe Kim killed it in the SuperPipe.  She had a natural flow, and she proved to be the toughest high school freshman, winning gold after chipping her tooth in a gnarly crash during practice.

Best Male Athlete – Danny Davis (Snowboard)

As I posted on Twitter, Danny Davis had so much style that even my mom knew he should be in first.  He never lost his cool, throwing down the top-qualifying run at the end of eliminations and edging out a high-flying Taku Hiraoka on his final run.

Newcomer to Watch – Christy Prior (Snowboard)
Taking bronze your first X Games is quite the feat.  Christy Prior had the technical skills and the style to make her Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle one to remember.  She is definitely here to stay.

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski SuperPipe
The gorgeous sight of the sun disappearing behind the mountains provided a dramatic backdrop of this competition, where the men kept going bigger and harder.  It was cool to see the progression and the emotions, and everybody was on edge over which country would rise to the top (U.S., Canada, or France) until the very end.

Best Trick – Sage Kotsenberg’s Backside 1260 Off the Heels (Snowboard)
Amidst the buzz of Big Air and Spencer O’Brien’s 900, Sage Kotsenberg slipping a new trick with a lot of his signature flair.  He didn’t get nearly enough recognition for innovation so I’m giving it to him here.

Picture Perfect Moment – Yiwei Zhang shoots for the crescent moon.
 photo wxg15-1_zpsvlggpj21.jpg By Christian Murdock/Associated Press.  From sfgate.com
The juxtaposition of the moon and Yiwei Zhang in the Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe elimination gives the shot an out-of-this-world quality.  The spray of snow in the corner is the perfect embellishment, as it is reminiscent of smoke coming from a rocket.

Best Moment Outside Competition – X Games Extra Show

Okay, I may be a little biased since I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask Chloe Kim a question on the show (and chat about my dad’s office decor with Jack Mitrani off-air).  However, snowboarding fans have long known that Jack and Craig McMorris are a winning duo, and it’s great that X Games has brought them on to show the fun side of the event.

Most Educational Moment – Drones at the X Games
Finally, a use for drones that doesn’t make people cringe!   They’re bringing in a new perspective on the competition, and it will be interesting to see how they change action sports photography.

Greatest Comeback – Nick Goepper (Ski)
After not qualifying for the finals, Nick Goepper could have thrown in the towel.  However, he got in as a last minute replacement and brought his A game.  Sure his victory might have resulted from some good fortune, but it was mostly skill and level head.

Most Inspirational – Chris Devlin-Young (Mono Skier X)
Fifty three-year-old Chris Devlin-Young proved that one should never let age or disability get in the way of the gold.  He won the first Mono Skier X gold and still has the skill to dominate the races.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Simon Dumont (Ski)
 photo wxg15-2_zpsmtfho88a.jpg
By Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool.  From redbull.com
Freeskiing would not be where it is without Simon Dumont.  He’s had his ups and down at Winter X, but he always puts on a good show and tries to push the sport.  He could’ve bowed out with the hard slam he took (especially already being injured), but he still gave fans one final show.

I’m bummed that there are still pronunciation issues and name inaccuracies, but hopefully that will improve with him. However, I had a blast dedicating my weekend to the X Games.I wound up only getting four of my predictions for gold right, but I enjoyed the surprises. Congratulations to all the winners and mad props to those who got back up after a hard slam to medal.  I also want to wish a speedy recovery to the less lucky ones: Henrik Harlaut, Levi LaValle, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, and Mike Schultz.

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.
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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.

Could Winter X been any more dramatic this year?  As the final ski and snowboard event before the Olympics, there was a lot of anticipating, predicting, and wondering.  While the favorites tried to stake a claim on the gold, the underdogs and those who would have to wait another four years grabbed the opportunity to showcase their talent.  There was Shaun White’s “will he or won’t he” question of attendance and an on-line debate over spins versus style.  Above all, in a sport that probably will never see the Olympics, one man turned tragedy into triumph in a celebration of brotherly love, going big, and following your passion.

Best Female Athlete – Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboard)
Although Kelly Clark deserves all the acclaim for being the winningest female athlete in the X Games, we cannot forget about Lindsey Jacobellis, who is now the female athlete with the most gold.  Her smart riding and consistency allowed her to obtain her eighth one in the Snowboard X finals and dominate the field, Olympics be damned.

Best Male Athlete – Tucker Hibbert (Snowmobile)

Speaking of dominance, no man has seven-peated at X until Tucker Hibbert crossed the SnoCross finish line.  He also has the most National wins so this really isn’t a surprise.  His hard work and discipline is as much to credit as his talent.

Newcomer to Watch – Chloe Kim (Snowboard)

You know an athlete is awesome when the only thing keeping her from the Olympics is her age.  Forget the Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano comparisons; Chloe Kim made a name for herself in the Women’s Superpipe with her high-flying, easy-going style.  The future of women’s snowboarding has arrived!

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski Slopestyle
The Men’s Ski Slopestyle finals had so many moments to remember: Andreas Hatveit’s X Games swang song, the first triple cork in an X Games ski slopestyle contest, and the first repeat winner in ten years.  On top of that, we had an excellent mix of style and spins, as well as proof by Nick Goepper that if at first you don’t succeed, do it better on your next run.

Best Trick – Danny Davis’s switch method (Snowboard)
XGAspen14-1 photo wxg14-2_zps7454d242.jpg
From Chris Wellhausen / Transworld Snowboarding
In an era where most riders spin to win, Danny Davis aired out a a huge switch method in the Men’s Superpipe finals.  While it might not look as fancy, the technical skill it required, along with the opportunity for self-expression, was exactly what propelled him to the top and what snowboarding needs to not forget.

Picture Perfect Moment – Mark McMorris receives his slopestyle silver medal from his mom.
Technically this is a video, and it’s not pro quality. However, the moment is too adorable to not recognize. Plus it’s nice to see Mark McMorris in good spirits after his gnarly crash.

Best Moment Outside Competition – the on-line Snowboard Big Air debate
Style versus math—what should count more?  When Halldor Helgason threw down a sick method, he made a statement and got people talking.  Add in some damning Tweets from pioneers like Pat Moore and Todd Richards, and it was clear that snowboarding is in need of some self-reflection and possibly a revolution (no pun intended).

Most Educational Moment – Jossi Wells show us how to land on your feet when things go awry. (Ski)
Big Air competitors are expected to wipe a lot.  Jossi Wells seemed to be immune to that, thanks to quick thinking  and physics.  The minute he knew the trick wasn’t going to work, he stretched out his arms and legs to slow down.  The increased air resistance bought him time to right himself and ski away.

Greatest Comeback – Kaya Turski (Ski)
Just four months after ACL surgery that involved a new technique, Kaya Turski came back to show why she is the top Women’s Ski Slopestyle competitor.  Her competitors, Maggie Voisin in particular, did not make it easy, but her mastery of the rails put her ahead of the back and on the road to Sochi gold.

Most Inspirational – Colten Moore (Snowmobile)

There was no a dry eye watching the Freestyle Snowmobile finals.  Colten Moore didn’t just come back from separating his pelvis; he returned after losing his brother in the same contest last year.  Some would walk away or at least take more time to recuperate physically and mentally, but Colten gave the ride of his life.  Regardless of your personal faith, it was obvious that Caleb was right there by his side.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Gretchen Bleiler (Snowboard)
XGAspen14-2 photo wxg14-1_zpsbd08cbf6.jpg
From Mahala Gaylord / The Denver Post
Gretchen Bleiler has been one of the most influential female snowboarders.  She’s the first woman to land a Crippler 540 and the first female action sports athlete to appear on the cover of the ESPN the Magazine.  Her visibility and enthusiasm helped the ladies of Superpipe get noticed, and her comeback from a horrifying eye injury is nothing short of miraculous.  Even though she won’t be on the X Games leaderboard, Gretchen’s influence will undoubtedly still be felt.

I’d like to conclude this wrap-up with my predictions for the Olympics, which has continued to change with the onslaught of injuries:
Snowboard Slopestyle – Max Parrot and Jamie Anderson
Snowboard Halfpipe – Iouri Podladtchikov and Kelly Clark
Ski Slopestyle – Nick Goepper and Kaya Turski
Ski Halfpipe – David Wise and Maddie Bowman

I’m back! Just in time to begin a new season of winter action sports (I’m all signed up for Fantasy Freeride League, are you?). Before we begin with that, I have to share the post that never made it up prior to my hiatus. It’s a comprehensive recap of all four summer events.

The “global” (I put that in quotes because what happened to Asia?) X Games initiative was ambitious and a great way to reach out to the international community, but I think we can all agree that it was exhausting. Not to mention unfair to certain sports and parts of the world. Having just one summer and one winter event makes the X Games more special and easier to manage although I would like to see smaller events like the Asian X Games were previously. I could write essay on my thoughts, but instead, let’s focus on the sick action we saw in Foz do Iguaçu, Barcelona, Munich, and Los Angeles with my eXponential Awards.

Best Female Athlete – Vicki Golden (Moto X)
Vicki Golden is no stranger to breaking barriers. The first woman to qualify for an Arenacross race became the first female rider to compete in a FMX event, something I had hoped to see in my lifetime since I got into action sports. She snagged the bronze in Best Whip and then went on to grab her third gold in Women’s Moto-X Racing.
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From Trevor Brown, Jr. / ESPN

Best Male Athlete – Bob Burnquist (Skateboard)
At Foz, Bob Burnquist became the X Games athlete with the most medals, and he followed it up with two more Big Air golds for a record of 27 total. Although he didn’t get the grand slam, he still continued to compete with a broken nose.

Newcomer to Watch – Scott Speed (Rally)

How many people can say they won the first big race they entered? Scott Speed did just that at the RallyCross event in Foz. While he still has a learning curve, his Formula One and NASCAR experience make him a force to be reckoned with.

Most Dramatic Finals – BMX Freestyle Street in L.A.

There had been only one BMX Street champion in the X Games, and that was Garrett Reynolds. Everything changed in L.A. though when Chad Kerley got the day’s top score. It was close—Garrett actually match Chad’s 45—but it was time for a new king of street.

Best Trick – Zack Warden’s Iron Lotus to late tailwhip plus triple tailwhip (BMX)
Although I’ve already awarded the backflip bike flip, a.k.a. the Iron Lotus, best trick last year, Zach Warden deserves recognition for giving us a prime example of progression in the Big Air contest at Barcelona.  Just how many tricks can a guy cram into one jump and still have enough momentum to do a triple whip on the quarterpipe.

Picture Perfect Moment – Colton Satterfield and Jake Brown share the MegaRamp at Foz do Iguaçu (BMX and Skateboard)
 photo xg13-2_zps6f07064a.jpg
From Brett Wilhelm / ESPN
Skaters and BMXers have a reputation of not getting along, but this photo, in addition to being a stunning sunset shot, highlights the camaraderie that transcends sports and nationalities at the X Games.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Tony Hawk’s kids clean the vert ramp.
The heavy rains in Barcelona were a big downer, but at least Tony Hawk’s kids managed to have some fun sliding on the vert ramp to mop it up. I bet Tony wishes they showed the same enthusiasm for household chores.

Most Educational Moment – Mike Schultz’s prosthetic leg (Moto X)
This is not exactly part of the X Games, but we got to see science benefit action sports. Mike Schultz was recognized this summer by Popular Science for engineering his own prosthetic to fit the dynamic action sports lifestyle. In addition to helping him win the Invention Award this year, his Versa Foot played a key role in his Adaptive Moto X gold.

Greatest Comeback – Bucky Lasek (Skateboard)
To use his words, Bucky Lasek hasn’t really gone anywhere, but he’s been missing the top of the podium for nine years. That changed with Foz, then Barcelona, Munich, and finally L.A.—a grand slam in Skateboard Vert.

Most Inspirational – Nyjah Huston (Skateboard)
Most people know Nyjah Huston as the street phenom. X Games aired a feature that showed the behind-the-scenes struggles with his family and how he was able to overcome it. I definitely see him in a new light.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Kevin Robinson (BMX)
The BMX Freestyle Big Air finals in L.A. felt like the end of an era. Longtime advocate and champion of the event, Kevin Robinson, was retiring from competition. I remember the first time I saw him ride on TV fourteen years ago and then meeting him three years later. Since then, I’ve followed his career with my brother and even my mom. It’s been an amazing run, and I’m glad he is happy with the choice that he’s made. Kevin, you’ll always been my family’s favorite rider.
 photo xg13-3_zpsbbc44c9d.jpg
From Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s been a great eleven years in L.A. So much history was made in the Staple Center, and so much heart was on display. However, I’m super stoked for Austin even if I happen to be out of state when the X Games are rolling out.

Usually thinking about the X Games a week later brings back fond memories and inspirational moments.  Although we still have that, the mood is clouded by sad news.  Snowmobile and ATV rider Caleb Moore has died.  The world of action sports will miss him, and the X Games may not be the same.

I debated whether I should continue with my usual wrap-up of the best moments.  The answer is yes.  Caleb was doing what he loved, and let’s celebrate his life and accomplishments, along with all the others at the X Games.

Best Female Athlete – Jamie Anderson (Snowboard)
This is her tenth X Games appearance, and look at how far she has come. From racing Boarder X with her sister to getting back-to-back golds in Slopestyle, Jamie is just unstoppable. Whatever sort of zen she reaches while hugging trees is evident on the course with her smooth riding and flawless tricks.

Best Male Athlete –Henrik Harlaut (Ski)

Henrik not only stomps his first triple cork, but he nose butters it. Those little touches of style is what makes a stand-out athlete and why he medaled in both Big Air and Slopestyle. Best of all though is his giant smile. This guys is out there having a good time, and that is how things should be.

Newcomer to Watch – Ayumu Hirano (Snowboard)
I’ve said a lot about him already, and the clip below does a good job of highlighting his amazing skills. If you didn’t know who he was at the beginning of the SuperPipe finals, you definitely knew him afterward.

Most Dramatic Finals – Snowboard Big Air
For the second year in a row, Snowboard Big Air made me want to run around and scream. Instead my facebook friends got a ramble of things that made no sense to them until I related it to watching a dramatic movie or TV show. The odds were against Torstein Horgmo and Mark McMorris, but when the time came to deliver or walk away empty-handed, they gave us new tricks. Which brings me to the next category…

Best Trick – Torstein Horgmo’s switch backside triple cork 1440 (Snowboard)
It’s easy to get tired of the spinning, but when you think about what switch means (the analogy X Games commentators love to use is throwing a fastball with your non-dominant hand), you have to be impressed by the skills and the balls it takes to pull a trick like Torstein’s.

Picture Perfect Moment – Ski Big Air podium is filled with friends.
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From Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool
This photo sums up the camaraderie that happens within action sports. When one person wins, everyone wins.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Tucker Hibbert gets his first professional haircut in 15 years
At first, I was wondering why was this even an article, but the story behind why he wound up at Uncle Jack’s Parlor is really amusing. His crew member’s buzzcut is too.

Most Educational Moment – How many rotations are in a 1980? (Ski)
Freeskiing has progressed so quickly that I had to start doing math again to keep up with the tricks. Alex Schlopy’s 1980 attempt required him to do a whopping five and a half rotations (which he completed but did not land).

Greatest Comeback – Levi LaVallee (Snowmobile)
For the past two years, we’ve seen (or rather heard) Levi in the booth, but he has returned to the sled in good form. He took home two golds (Freestyle and Speed and Style) and was going to enter the two more snowmobile events before tearing a muscle in his back. Nonetheless, he is back in action!

Most Inspirational – Elena Hight (Snowboard)
I’m a firm believer that girls can do anything the guys can, and Elena proved that to be true by stomping the trick that has eluded Shaun White, a double backside alley-oop rodeo. This wasn’t the first time she’s done something major: she was the first woman to do a 900 at just the age of 13. On top of going big, she promotes eco-friendly style with Repreve and is on the Boarding for Breast Cancer Team. She’s an excellent role model for both young women and men.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Caleb Moore (Snowmobile)
Even though this was only his third X Games, Caleb and his brother Colten have done so much for freestyle snowmobiling. No one thought these ATV riders from Texas would place very high, but they have proven to be both skilled and memorable. Caleb’s tricks were always impressive (check out his rock solid in the footage below), and he was working hard to get a gold. He embodied the determination and joy that is a part of the action sports lifestyle. Ride on, Caleb.
Caleb Moore photo calebmoore_zpsaca8a9ac.jpg
From Rockstar Energy Drink US facebook page

Missed out on the X Games action, or are you just missing it? Well, here’s a nice highlight reel:
This reel sums up the theme of this year’s Summer X Games for me: a return to the past. Some familiar faces topped the podium while newcomers demonstrate a bright-eyed enthusiasm I had as a teen who had just discovered action sports. I made my return to the FMX forums and was inspired to start skateboarding again. Even the soundtrack was nostalgic with new songs by Linkin Park, a band I was completely obsessed with in high school (I still like them; I’m just less fangirly). Enough reflecting though, let’s get to my top moments of X Games L.A. 2012.

Best Female Athlete – Alexis Sablone (Skateboard)
It’s hard to believe that Alexis was nervous about the course. She hit some of the biggest obstacles and gaps, and her high first run score made all the competitors step up their game. Her gold, medal number four, reinforces the fact that she is one of the most consistent skaters in Women’s Street.

Best Male Athlete – Garrett Reynolds (BMX)

Garrett had some tough competition this year, but his ability to combine the stylish big tricks with more technical ones makes him the undefeated BMX Street champion. What’s more impressive is that he claims to not ever train. He just rides because he likes it (and isn’t that how it should be?)

Newcomer to Watch – Tom Schaar (Skateboard)

Tom was the only member of the unlicensed group (as in they can’t legally drive) to make both the Big Air and Vert finals. He can do 900s and 1080s, and while he lacks the amplitude or technical tricks down yet to truly be a threat veterans like Bob Burnquist and Bucky Lasek, they have already got their eyes on him.

Most Dramatic Finals – Step-Up (Moto-X)
As much as I enjoy Step-Up, it’s not the most imaginative disciplines of FMX. This year, however, gave us an epic battle of will power and technique for the world record. It was nerve-wracking and a bit painful to watch, but the beating Matt Buyten and Ronnie Renner took made the finale so worth while.

Best Trick – Zack Warden’s Backflip Bike Flip (BMX)
The backflip bike flip is one of those tricks that makes absolutely no sense until you see it happen (and even then it’s mind-boggling). It’s so unique, and the precision and body awareness needed to not end up crashing in a tangle of limbs and handlebars makes this one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a while.

Picture Perfect Moment – Taka Higashino’s rock solid flip (Moto-X)

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Photo by Michael Antonovich (Transworld Motocross)
This is my current desktop, and my mind continues to be blown by the image. It clearly captures what is so crazy about doing a rock solid flip.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Gary Young goes for the baby (BMX)
While others BMX Park riders were eyeing the gold, Gary was eyeing his phone. Two days before the contest, he actually rushed to San Diego after his wife was thought to have gone into labor. That wound up being a false alarm, but Gary admitted that he didn’t care about winning and was going to drop everything to be able to be with his family. Talk about devotion. “I do good here; I do bad here—either way I win a baby,” he told X Cast. Gary and his wife Sarah welcomed their baby girl Leena earlier today. Congratulations!

Most Educational Moment – Sport Science breaks down the physics of the Double Loop Dare

This presentation definitely made me appreciate the stunt a lot more, especially since the drivers made it look so easy. I’m glad they gave props to the engineers because without science, none of this would have been possible.

Greatest Comeback – Kevin Robinson (BMX)
Kevin has missed the last two Big Air finals, and in that time, he has endured five major dislocations and three surgeries. I was a bit worried that his shoulder would still cause him problems, especially after the hard slams he took this year. However, he forged ahead and wound up claiming bronze.

Most Inspirational – Kyle Loza (Moto-X)
Dealing with critics is never easy. Kyle has had many naysayers tell him that he doesn’t have what it takes to do the bike flip, and in the Big Air finals, he had to make the difficult decision of not taking a second run despite the backlash that would undoubtedly happen.  He handled all the booing and name-calling with grace, and that is why he’s one of the most inspirational athletes at this year’s X Games.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Carey Hart (Moto-X)

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Carey (right-side up) racing against Edgar Torrenteras.  Photo by Olivia Bush (X Games Tumblr).
While I’m not the first to give Carey a Lifetime Achievement Award, he truly deserves the recognition for all he has given FMX and the X Games.  In 2001, we saw one of the most horrific crashes at X; the next year, he reclaimed the backflip, now a staple in FMX. After a hiatus, he started racing SuperMoto and later Speed and Style. Although he didn’t make the finals this year, he had a good last X Games race.  We’re going to miss seeing you compete at X, Carey!

Before we completely wrap things up, I’d like to share an article that linked to this blog: “7 X-games rules to apply to your marriage”.  It gives you relationship advice with a FMX theme.  Maybe the newly engaged Taka Higashino should take some notes.

The X Games were over too quickly. My mind could barely process the amazing feats that happened in the course of four days. I was sad to not see Snocross on the schedule, but I was stoked that ABC picked up a portion of the broadcast (it’s tough to watch everything on a laptop screen). Anyway, here are my awards for stand-out performances and memorable moments. Everyone did so well that I struggled to narrow down my candidates for the best athlete categories.

Best Female Athlete – Kelly Clark (Snowboard)
Kelly Clark’s comp history is ridiculous, and now she has added a fourth Winter X gold and a thirteenth consecutive win. She also throws down the 1080 like it’s not big deal (when she’s the only woman doing them).

Best Male Athlete – Mark McMorris (Snowboard)
Although Mark McMorris’ double gold and triple cork was overshadowed by Shaun White’s perfect score, he established himself as one of the best slopestyle riders… in his second Winter X Games. Something else worth noting: Shaun was the last person to win two Winter X Games events in the same year (2009).

Newcomer to Watch – Nick Goepper (Ski)
Last year, Torin Yater-Wallace came out of nowhere to challenge the top competitors in Ski SuperPipe. Now it was Slopestyle’s turn to introduce a mega-talented rookie. Seventeen-year-old Nick Goepper unexpectedly took the top spot in qualifiers and held onto it in the finals until Tom Wallisch’s second run.

Most Dramatic Finals – Snowboard Big Air
Also known as the “Triple Party!!!” The question of who will attempt the triple cork first was answered by the first person to ever do one, Torstein Horgmo. Then Mark McMorris and Sebstain Toutant stepped up to the plate, and with each attempt, the riders got closer and closer to landing the elusive trick. Finally, as the clock wound down, Mark landed the first triple cork 1440 in competition, and on his last run, Torstein improved upon it and scored a perfect 50. Progression happened before our eyes.

Best Trick – front flip (Snowmobile)
Heath Frisby made the front flip look so easy that I had to take a second to think about what happened: a man made a 500-pound machine somersault forwards off a ramp. This kind of stuff only ought to happen in comic books, yet Heath proved that it was possible in real life.

Picture Perfect Moment – Dominique Maltais in Snowboarder X
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Photo from X Games facebook page
This shot reminds me of the phrase from ABC sports, “the thrill of victory”. Dominique’s silhouette is beautiful against the blue sky, and the shot embodies the moment of glory.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Sarah Burke vigil
Although the vigil was a moment of sadness, it was also a moment of great beauty. It reminded us that that the X Games are not about who has the most gold medals or whether snowboarding or skiing is cooler; it’s about community and living life to the fullest.
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Louie Vito hugs Sarah’s mother Jan Phelan. Photo by AAron Ontiveroz (The Denver Post)

Most Educational Moment – Keir Dillon explains double cork variations (Snowboard Big Air)
I’ve been told that snowboarding “looks like a bunch of spins”, and that’s not far from the truth. What determines the crème de la crème are the little details that go with the spins. Double corks are a big deal so I appreciate the fact that Keir Dillon mentioned frontsides and Cabs were more difficult than backsides. It’s nice to know what the judges are looking for.

Greatest Comeback – Shaun White (Snowboard)
After seeing Shaun’s SuperPipe runs, I have a hard time believing that he had a sprained ankle. To go from having to pull out of Slopestyle to getting a perfect score in a couple days must be the greatest comeback ever.

Most Inspirational – Sarah Burke (Ski)
The entire 4 days of competition was held in Sarah’s honor, as the Winter X Games would not be what it is today without her contributions. Several gold medalists dedicated their wins to her, and in the Women’s Ski SuperPipe, we saw the legacy she left behind. Though saddened by her untimely death, many competitors remembered her love of life and celebrated it through their sports.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Casey Puckett (Skier X)
This was Casey Puckett’s last professional race, and after ten X Games and five Olympics, it would be be an understatement to say that he has had an impressive 22-year career. After retiring from alpine skiing, he began a skicross career. He’s one of four individuals to have two golds in Men’s Skier X, and he finished fifth this year after only a “handful” of days skiing. While youth may reign at Winter X , we must never underestimate the power of the veterans or forget their achievements. Casey, it’s been a pleasure watching you race all these years.

If you missed any of this year’s big moments, you can catch them all in this highlight reel:

Yes, it’s been a month since the Summer X Games, but I was trying to figure out how to make my “awards” for the best moments of the X Games more unique to the nerdy nature of this blog and more comprehensive.  I came up with a new name too!

Before I start handing out eXponential Awards, I’d like to congratulate X Games photographer Olivia Bush for her post, “Practice Makes Awesome“, being Freshly Pressed a couple weeks ago.  There are some sweet shots of various events so definitely check out her blog.

Now let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at my favorites of Summer X 17.

Best Female Athlete – Maria Forsberg (Moto-X)
The female endurocross racers had to ride the same course as the men, and the course didn’t care about your gender or riding background.  Everybody was taking spills.  Nevertheless, Maria held the lead for a good portion of the final.

Best Male Athlete – Daniel Dhers (BMX)
Opting out of a run when all the riders were giving it their all was a ballsy move.  We were sure that was going to hurt Daniel, but because he was well-rested, he was able to ride consistently and take the gold back.  Who needs a fourth run when you’ve got three excellent ones?

Newcomer to Watch – Enduro-X
“But Jen, that’s not an athlete or even a new sport.” That’s what you’re thinking, right? However, during both the men’s and women’s finals, I was wondering where this event has been in the history of X Games. It’s physically demanding, unpredictable, chaotic, and really fun to watch—perfect for the X Games.

Most Dramatic Finals – Skateboard Vert
To see Shaun White and Pierre-Luc Gagnon battle it out for gold was incredible, yet I never got the feeling that this was an epic showdown. They just looked like they were trying to outskate themselves, and that’s what made it exciting. Also, I believe Shaun got the only standing ovation of the night.

Best Trick – Jackson Strong’s Front Flip (Moto-X)
It seemed like only yesterday, the double back flip was unattainable. You’re fighting so many forces when you’re flipping your bike forward. When Jackson landed the front flip, it was pretty much a battle for silver from then on.

Picture Perfect Moment – Jamie Bestwick in BMX Vert
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Photo by Olivia Bush, from X Games facebook page
The contrast of the photo makes Jamie practically glow. The shot is so focused on the rider and his bike that it’s almost as if Jamie is riding on his own.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Mitchie Brusco’s 900 (Skateboard Big Air)
After all these years, the 900 is still the Holy Grail of skateboarding, and this kid, who wasn’t even alive during the first X Games, pulls one in competition. Regardless of how he did in the finals, Mitchie became an overnight sensation and the future of skateboarding.

Most Educational Moment – Sport Science presentation on Skateboard Big Air

Big Air consists of a lot of bailed attempts and falls, which can make people impatient. However, when you know exactly how difficult it is to stay on your board (or bike) and how much it hurts to fall, you gain a lot more respect for all the athletes. Also, this was a good review of high school physics.

Greatest Comeback – Travis Pastrana (Moto-X/Rally)
Instead of handing out an award for crashing hard (which I’m sure the athletes aren’t proud of), I decided to give one out for the ability to bounce back. Technically Travis couldn’t get back on his feet after his bad crash in Moto-X Best Trick, but he deserves props for being dedicated enough to go out and race rallycross with multiple broken bones (and almost medaling).

Most Inspirational – Team Pastrana (Rally)
I know I already gave Travis an award, but his team deserves as much recognition for toiling overnight to install hand controls in his car, which he then learned in the course of a day. Hard work, determination, and a little bit of insanity is a winning combo. Even if they didn’t medal, Team Pastrana probably got the most coverage ever.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Jamie Bestwick (BMX)
Since I got into extreme sports, I’ve been following Jamie’s career. He started to make a name for himself after the ’99 Gravity Games, and I remember the announcers talking about how he left everything behind in England to train for BMX. For the next 10 years, he became one of the dominant vert riders, only missing the top of the podium 2 of the years. Although this year’s comp wasn’t a cakewalk, he took gold again and became one of the few athletes to five-peat. At 40 years old, he still shows no sign of slowing down.