Posts Tagged ‘freestyle motocross’

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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Hello there, I’m back!  My hiatus was unplanned with some unexpected life changes and the problem with my old editing program.  However, I’ve got a new version of Paint Shop Pro, and I’m slowly trying to get back in the habit of blogging while handling increased work responsibilities.  X Games Austin has come and gone, but we still have the memories so let’s revisit them, shall we?
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I didn’t head to Austin until Friday due to work and lack of events prior to Friday afternoon, but I did catch Step Up and Flat-track on TV.  So here were some of the things I noted.

Step Up

  • I was bummed to miss out on Step Up again since this year was Matt Buyten’s last.  I’ve been following his career for more than 10 years, and he’s just an awesome guy.  Unfortunately he got knocked out pretty early.
  • Bryce Hudson has “Soap Boy” on the back of his jersey, which was adorable.
  • It was interesting to see who was close friends with whom.  The cameras kept showing Bryce and talking with Jarryd McNeil (and even giving him pointers) while Matt was chatting with Ronnie Renner a few times.
  • Matt and Ronnie’s friendship must be like a trip through the history of Step Up.  Both guys have a ton of jumps under their belts.
  • I could not believe this was Jarryd’s first X Games Step-Up competition.  He flew so high.
  • I was not a fan of the shared gold medals.  While I understood the time limits with live TV, it felt SO anticlimactic.  It would have been awesome to see how high Jarryd and Libor Podmol could have gone.  I was stoked for both winners though.

Flat-track Racing

  • I didn’t get the hype over it.  It’s just not as exciting as say, motocross.  Also I don’t know why they didn’t have women’s racing too.
  • Tough luck for last year’s winner Bryan Smith.  He crashed around the first turn and took another guy out.  I thought he could gain some ground, but once you’re out, you’re out.  The 20 laps went by super fast.
  • Redemption for Jared Mees was clearly the headline for the night.

After the weather (and my parents) threatened to make Austin a no-go, we made it and it was freakin’ hot and sunny.  The earlier rain had made Dallas cooler so I thought it would be the same.  Nope.  I got to COTA as Skateboard Vert under way, and the skaters were flying high despite the heat.

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While I hate starting off the year with a downer, I also think it’s important to remember the lives our community has lost.  They would want us to move on, but let’s not forget their contributions.

On May 16, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt died in a wingsuit flight accident at Yosemite National Park.  Potter was a well-known pioneer in climbing and BASE jumping.  Hunt was an up-and-comer in the scene and Potter’s long-time flying partner.

The Nitro Circus family lost one of its own on September 28.  Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident during the opening ceremony of a celebrity golf tournament.  The ski-BASE jumper reached fans from any action sports disciplines due to his involvement with Nitro Circus.

October 1 saw another wingsuit fatality.  Johnny Strange, a BASE jumper and the youngest person to climb the seven summits, died at the age of 23.

In early December, downhill skateboarding and street luge legend Biker Sherlock took his own life.  The link I put includes info on how to donate to his family.

Lastly, Japanese motocross rider Cloud Toda died in a foam pit fire.  He overcame great odds after an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and was practicing whips in hopes of getting into the X Games.

We will miss all of these individuals, but their spirits live on as we are reminded to seize each day.

This is not much of a picspam since I was only able to attend for a couple hours in the morning and my photos did not turn out great (apparently I’m good at vert shots but not other events).    D-Town Throwdown took place on October 17 in the middle of downtown Dallas and featured three skateboard disciplines: vert, street, and downhill.  On top of the competitions, there was a freestyle motocross demo, concerts, and live art.  There was also a mini-ramp set up for attendees to do some skating of their own.
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The downhill event took place inside a parking garage. Qualifiers ran all day and included a diversity of riders. In the end, Billy Bones took the win with his grandparents watching.
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Trying to catch a shot of racers out of the chute was a bit tricky.

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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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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

Last year, I wrote a post about the physics behind a triple backflip in BMX.  Well, as most of you know by now, Josh Sheehan has done a triple backflip on a dirt bike.  If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:

Now that he’s done what we had thought would be the impossible (though we said that about the double before Travis did it), that leaves us with the question of whether there is a limit. Buzz Skyline did some calculations at his blog, eXtreme Sports Physics, and came up with a total of four flips.


Image from Buzz Skyline.  Click here for more images of his calculations.

Another physics blog, Physics Buzz, took a look at the front flip. While a backflip has the rider utilizing the bike’s natural momentum and the ramp’s angle (which shaves off half of the first rotation), a front flip combats those forces AND the landing is blind. As Jim DeChamp told ESPN, “[I]t’s not a natural beauty trick— it’s like, that is awkward, that is wrong.” The Physics Buzz post looks at both what happens when a front flip is executed properly and when things go wrong.

I’m pretty sure we’re not going to see a triple backflip in the X Games. The ramps just aren’t big enough. Who knows about the double backflip or the front flip, but my guess is that the new Quarterpipe event is going to take riders in the direction of off-axis flips and 360s. We’ll see.

This post is a continuation of the discussion on sexism in action sports.  Click here for part 1.

When I first got into action sports, I adopted some of the culture’s misogynistic attitudes without being fully aware of it.  After all, I vehemently supported the idea that a female FMX rider could rise among the ranks of the best.  However, I still joined in the shaming of girls who seemed to be into the sport for the guys.  It’s much like the “fake geek girl” attitude I’ve seen in nerd culture, where attractive women are judged automatically.  Even though no one wants disingenuity, it’s not up to us to determine who is “real” without getting to know them.  Plus action sports wouldn’t be as successful as it is today without the casual fans.  I was lucky to have joined FMX forums run by women in the industry; plus I gave off the little sister vibe.  How we look (or are perceived to appear) shouldn’t matter, but it does.

This brings me to Kim Woozy’s TED Talk:

She made me think about the mixed reactions female action sports athletes have gotten for posing nude for ESPN the Magazine‘s Body Issue.  I am all for anyone embracing their bodies, and nudity shouldn’t be a big deal.  Plus the Body Issue does a great job of highlighting different sizes, shapes, and skin tones, as well as “imperfections” like tan lines and scars.  Nevertheless, Kim and Jen Hudak make good points in their criticisms of sexy shoots.  Why do those get more attention than actual achievements?

One of my friends posted a link on Facebook about the Body Issue, praising the use of Prince Fielder on the cover.  Someone had commented that women don’t seem to get the same treatment, citing Jamie Anderson’s cover.  While the photo of Jamie perfectly captures her spirit and personality, I had to partly agree with the comment.  Jamie’s looks are irrelevant, but the artistic choice for the photo is something to question.  She’s posing (in kind of a stereotypical modeling way too), not snowboarding.  Contrast that with the shot of Coco Ho.  It’s dynamic and more inspiring.

Jamie Anderson.  By Peggy Sirota/ ESPN the Magazine

Jamie Anderson. By Peggy Sirota/ ESPN the Magazine

Coco Ho.  By Morgan Maassen/ ESPN The Magazine

Coco Ho. By Morgan Maassen/ ESPN The Magazine

Now I don’t fault Jamie since she was not in charge of the shoot, but I hope ESPN the Magazine will consider how they depict their cover models (it’s worth noting that the other female cover model, Venus Williams, was also posing and didn’t even have a racket).

Another thing that bothered me about the Body Issue was the behind-the-scenes footage of Travis Pastrana and Lyn-Z Adams Pastrana.  First, I wish Lyn-Z was skateboarding instead of riding in the back.  I know the artistic director probably wanted a fun couple’s shot, but it sends the message that Lyn-Z’s career takes a backseat.  On top of that, they captured Travis joking about how he got to see his “wife’s tits all day”.  Although I’m sure Lyn-Z was not offended by the comment, it’s still derogatory and inappropriate to air.  It reinforces the idea that looks are the most important thing for a girl and disregards the struggles Lyn-Z has faced as a female skateboarder.  I’m very disappointed in both ESPN and Travis Pastrana.

These are little things that have a major impact.  They contribute to the misogyny that women in action sports (whether they are athletes, industry folks, or fans) face.  When male skaters and riders call each other “pussy” or “bitch”, they are associating femininity with weakness.  That, in turn, alienates the women who are already fighting this double standard of having to be attractive to get attention but not too pretty to where they won’t be taken seriously.  One thing I disagree with Jen on her critique of sexy shoots is how much it will injure a female athlete’s career. It’s less about the photos themselves (because after all, we remember the achivements of Danica Patrick and Elena Hight) and more about that ridiculous double standard and the constant objectification of women by the media and even by their peers. Who cares if some of us wear no make-up and have grease stains on our clothes while others of us wear heels on weekends and are willing to pose nude? Our love of actions sports should be what matters, and until that is the case, I will not stop fighting for more feminism in the culture.

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
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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)
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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.

To commemorate two decades of competition and innovation, X Games Austin compiled a series of milestones titled “20 Years 20 Firsts”.  Fans could vote on their favorite, and the winner was Elena Hight stomping the first ever double backside alley-oop rodeo.

The list inspired me to create one of my own.  Since this year’s X Games marks my fifteenth year of following the competition (I started watching in 1999), I decided to countdown my top fifteen firsts at X Games.

15. Jake Brown’s 720 in Skateboard Big Air (2007) – The subsequent fall overshadowed his history-making achievement, and while the horror will forever be etched in my mind, Jake’s daring trick deserves to be remembered as well.

14. TJ Schiller’s double cork 1620 in Ski Big Air (2011) – I used to be able to keep up with the math, but then TJ came along and made me wish I had a calculator.  Although he may have had to settle for second, he raised the bar for freeskiing.

13. Eito Yasutoko becomes the first Asian gold medalist in Men’s Vert Skating (2000) – He was the first Asian I saw win an X Games event (I missed seeing Ayumi Kawasaki the previous year).  It gave me something to relate to and proved that action sports is truly global.

12. Tucker Hibbert wins the first Snocross race at X (2000) – Never did I think I would be into snowmobiles, but watching 15-year-old Tucker become the youngest X Games gold medalist, beating out his father in the process, got me interested.
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Photo by Aaron Kores/ESPN.com

11. Ashley Fiolek becomes the first deaf X Games medalist in Women’s Moto X Super X (2009) – Ashley’s story is so inspiring and to see her win showed that with hard work, determination, and skill, you can overcome great odds.

10. Elena Hight’s double backside alley-oop rodeo in Women’s Snowboard Superpipe (2013) – Elena’s achievement proved that gender doesn’t matter, just innovation.  The fact that she won the vote is an encouraging step for female action sports athletes in overcoming the glass ceiling.

9. Zacky Warden’s bike flip backflip to late tailwhip in BMX Big Air (2013) – There are so many things going on in that trick combo that it’s hard to break it down without slow-mo.  The creativity and technicality is mind-blowing.

8. Torstein Horgmo’s triple flip in Snowboard Big Air (2011) – Although it may have been more flip than cork, no one thought a triple anything was possible.  Torstein took the chance and set in motion the events that would change snowboarding.

7. Fabiola da Silva and Ayumi Kawasaki compete in the Men’s Vert Skating (2001) – Thanks to the Fabiola Rule, both ladies’ scores were judged against the men.  Although neither qualified for the finals, it opened doors and foreshadowed Fabiola’s future boundary-shattering accomplishments.
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Ayumi Kawasaki in the prelims. Photo by Bakke/Shazamm/ESPN (from Skatelog)

6. Caleb Wyatt’s no-handed to no-footed backflip on snow in Moto X Best Trick (2004) – As backflips were starting to become the norm, Caleb took it to a whole new level while on tricky terrain.  He shut up all the haters, and heck the whole thing even inspired poetry.

5. Kevin Robinson’s double flair in BMX Vert Best Trick (2006) – Kevin is best known for his flair, and now he’ll be immortalized for doing the first double flair.  The highlight of watching it was telling my mom that this is where the rider we saw a few years back is and having her root for Kevin too.

4. Vicki Golden becomes the first female freestyle motocross competitor in Moto X Best Whip (2013) – When I got into action sports, I fantasized about being the first female FMX rider at the X Games.  People told me it wasn’t possible for any woman to ride with the boys, but Vicki proved them wrong.

3. Travis Pastrana’s double backflip in Moto X Best Trick (2006) – This was the first time I remember being completely unsure of the outcome because a double backflip on a dirt bike seemed so far-fetched.  The suspense, the glorious payout, and the mutual admiration of both fans and non-fans alike made this one of the best moments ever.
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Photo by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photo Files (from Motorcycle-USA)

2. Travis Pastrana wins the first Moto X gold (1999) – I had to put Travis twice because if it weren’t for him, I would have never gotten into FMX and be where I’m at.  He was the perfect ambassador for this new sport, and the rest is history.

1. Tony Hawk’s 900 in Skateboard Best Trick (1999) – This was the other moment from X Games that changed my life forever.  The sheer determination, coupled with the support from his fellow skaters and the disregard for competition rules, summed up what action sports was all about and inspired me to never give up.