Posts Tagged ‘freestyle BMX’

This was not how I wanted to return to posting.  I was getting ready to write a post this weekend, and then I got the horrible news.  Yesterday, BMX legend and all-around awesome guy Kevin Robinson died from a stroke.

I’m gutted.  Not only am I still dealing with the  passing of Dave Mirra and more recently, Nicky Hayden (in additional to other losses), but I knew Kevin.  He was one of the first action sports athletes I met, and my brother and I followed his career diligently for the past 17 years since we saw him pull off the first no-handed flair at the 2000 Gravity Games.

In 2001, a BMX show took place near Fort Worth, and we begged my mom to take us and made posters.  Kevin Robinson was the biggest name there so my brother made a sign that said, “Texas wants to see a flair”.   I’m not sure if the photos my mom too are still around (I printed out a couple and saved the one below), but I’ll never forget my first action sports event.  Then we got Pat Miller’s autograph.  My mom saw Kevin talking to someone in the distance and actually yelled his name.  I will be eternally mortified (because my mom knows nothing about BMX and I didn’t want to bother him) and grateful.  He was super nice and even gave my brother advice on how to bunny hop.  It was one of the best days of my life.

kevin robinson

Throughout the years, my mom would still ask us about Kevin when we watched the X Games.  We cheered his record-breaking moments and victories and grew alarmed at his injuries.  I was sad to learn that he retired before I could see him ride again, but I had always hoped to catch him at X Games Austin.  Although that never happened, we did interact very briefly on social media a couple of times.  He liked my posts and responded to a suggestion I had for his anti-bullying program.

That brings me to one of the things I admired about him.  Kevin was a great role model and philanthropist.  He also was an advocate for traumatic brain injury research, having suffered many concussions and lost two friends (Junior Seau and Dave Mirra) to the tragic effects of chronic brain encephalitis.  My current career is in TBI research, and I’m going to keep working hard so that maybe there will be a breakthrough in how to help riders recover and how to make things safer.

My heart really goes out to his family.  His social media was often filled with praises for the various accomplishments of his kids and love for his wife.  I also feel for his BMX family, as he has mentored and inspired many riders.  He inspired me too.

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Photo from Kyle Carlson (Instagram)

At X Games Austin 2016, he led a touching tribute to Dave Mirra.  I know we’ll be paying tribute to him in a similar way, but in the meantime, we’ll have to take time to process this tragic loss.  Ride in peace, K-Rob!

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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…)

It is with great sadness that I halt my X Games recaps for this post.  Most of you probably have heard the news, but in case you haven’t, action sports legend Dave Mirra died yesterday from what appears to be a suicide.  When I was in Aspen, I was thinking about how I hadn’t seen much from him and how I missed his presence. Then I read what happened, and my heart has been aching for his family, his friends, and the community.

I never met Dave, but he was one of the key figures in my early years of watching the X Games and other related contests.  He was the epitome of an athlete, someone who worked hard to reach the top of the podium.  I remember those fierce showdowns with Jay Miron and Jamie Bestwick.  When he pulled the first double backflip in X Games BMX Park, I went nuts.  This was a guy who pushed the limits, the “Miracle Boy”. He took BMX to another level.

Dave was also a friendly face that helped action sports reach a broader audience.  I remember the friendly banter that happened between him, Ryan Nyquist, and Dennis McCoy in the behind-the-scenes features of various BMX tours.  Dave was always like someone who didn’t quit.  When he retired from BMX, he did rally.  After that, he trained for triathlons.    No matter what he did, he put 100% and it showed.

At the end of the day though, it’s not the number of gold medals you have or world records you set.  It’s the impact you have, and last night, I couldn’t help but tear up at all the tribute posts fellow athletes, BMX and other, and even non-action sports folks shared.  He touched so many of us.

Death is an unfortunate aspect of action sports, but Dave’s shocked us all.  It’s one thing to hear about someone having an accident while doing something they live for; it’s another to hear that they’ve taken their own life.  It’s a sobering reminder of how people who seem to have it all, who put on a smiling face, may be hurting deep inside.  I worry about the other athletes because we hardly ever hear about their troubles and because I have to wonder if the effects of brain injury played a role.  That’s something to ponder when our grief has subsided a bit.

A couple days ago, Dave posted on his Instagram: “Fight to win!  We all have a battles [sic] to fight.  Never back down.  Love you all.”.  We might not ever understand what has happened, but we have to try to reach out, to support one another, to push for answers if it can save a life, and to live.  Rest in peace, Dave Mirra.  We’ll miss you, but we’ll never forget you.

From ESPN

From ESPN

Unlike many of my fellow Dallasites, going to the State Fair of Texas was never a tradition of mine.  Then I discovered that Big Time Actionsports put on a BMX show every year.  This time I went on a weekend so I had to fight the crowds.  I planted myself in front of the open loop transfer with the hope of getting a sick shot, but that was easier said than done.  The position wasn’t ideal for anything else so I didn’t get many photos.  It was a great learning experience for photography (especially since my settings weren’t good either).

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Pete Brandt with Jimmy Coleman announcing and Mat Olson applauding (more…)

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.
    XG2015 Big Air Doubles03
  •  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.

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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