Posts Tagged ‘freestyle snowmobiling’

I spoke too soon about life not kicking me in the butt.  I still haven’t even watch all the X Games Oslo recaps I found, and now we’re less than a week away from Summer X.  Hopefully going to Austin will recharge me.  I’m also working on a writing plan in order to get back to regularly scheduled updates.  Unfortunately the photo editing program I’ve been using for years is no longer compatible with my current computer so there will still be some delay until I figure out whether my back-up program is enough.

In case you need to reacquaint yourself with action from this past winter, here are the links to my daily recaps: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I will be finished with adding all the non-X Aspen shots to my Flickr album so check it, along with my Youtube clips.  Now onto my picks for the best moments!

Best Female Athlete – Spencer O’Brien (Snowboard)
This gold has been a long-time coming for Spencer O’Brien.  She rode smoothly throughout the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle finals and had both technical tricks and big spins.

Best Male Athlete – Fabian Bösch (Ski)
Really all the competitors in Ski Big Air deserve mad props for delivering on a night that caused other events to be cut short.  Fabian Bosch didn’t let rookie jitters or the snow keep him from throwing down a triple.

Newcomer to Watch – tie between Kelly Sildaru (Ski) and Darcy Sharpe (Snowboard)
Obviously I have to mention Kelly Sildaru for killing it in Women’s Ski Slopestyle at the ripe young age of 13.  However, I also need to recognize Darcy Sharpe for throwing down the method as the first trick of Snowboard Big Air.  He knows what’s important, and he’s gonna go far. 

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski Superpipe
This had all the makings for a movie.  All eyes were on Gus Kenworthy, who achieved a personal best and led a good portion of the finals.  One last skier remained, Kevin Rolland, and he threw down a stellar run worthy of first.  Kevin himself seemed surprised, and to cap things off, his coach ran all the way down the massive halfpipe to congratulate him.

Best Trick – Joe Parsons’ Parsby flip
I saw this in person, and I still have trouble believe that it happened.  Pure nuttiness is what it was.  Just click here and see you for yourself.

Picture Perfect Moment – The road to gold isn’t always a breeze.
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By Brent Lewis. From The Denver Post
The athletes often appear fearless and capable of everything.  Matt Ladley’s expression shows that isn’t always the case.  You can’t blame him with how bad the conditions were.  It’s a good reminder that all these amazing folks are still human.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Colten Moore reads Catching the Sky at a local bookstore.
I thought it was really cool for the Aspen community to meet one of its biggest stars, especially someone who’s most definitely not from town like Colten.  Although I was planning to get the book, listening to him talk about it made me want to read it even more.
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Most Educational Moment – Intel provides data on Big Air tricks
This was a nice treat for people who couldn’t watch in person (I was kind of jealous actually).  By providing information on spins and height, fans get a little more insight into how scoring works and friends who happen to be on the couch with us can get a little more snowboarding 101.

Greatest Comeback – Maddie Bowman (Ski)
After spending the off season in surgery, Maddie Bowman had only been in the pipe for a month before she grabbed her fourth X Games gold.  Moreover, she became the first woman to throw down a switch 900, a trick she only learned two days ago. 

Most Inspirational – Gus Kenworthy (Ski)
To all the critics who wondered why Gus Kenworthy needed to come out, his silver medals in Slopestyle and Superpipe are proof that it is important.  You could see that he’s been unburdened, finally able to express himself.  He also took the time to interact with fans after Slopestyle and on-line.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboard)
 photo wxg16-2_zpsyfqch0xs.jpg By Peter Foley. From First Tracks!!
Lindsey Jacobellis has been a name I’ve associated with gold since I started watching boardercross.  Her victory (by 0.041 seconds) makes her the most winningest female athlete in X history with ten victories.  Even though she has had some hard times, she always pushes througha true inspiration for girls everywhereand she looks like she isn’t slowing down any time soon. 

Congratulations again to all the winners!  As with my experience in Austin, I have even more respect for what these athletes do.  It was so hard to just see them sometimes, and you don’t get a sense of how big everything is until you’re right next to it.

day2-dad0336 Hey, this bench looks familiar.

Aspen was a ton of fun, but I’m not sure I’ll be back next year just due to costs and the possibility of getting snowed in again.  I wanna take time to plug the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, one of the places I visited during my extended stay.  What they do is really cool, and we have to remember that we have to protect the mountains.

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I’m really sorry for lagging on these updates.  Life has been throwing curveballs ever since I got back from Aspen; I wasn’t even able to watch all the replays before ESPN took them down.  In any case, Friday was the most jam-packed day so I hope to be back to posting more regularly.

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Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle

  • The bummer about seeing Slopestyle in person is that you only get a view of the money booter, and if you’re not press or VIP, you’re way in the back.  Also annoying kids on the ski lift above us liked to purposely shake snow off their boards onto our heads.
  • Despite this, I enjoyed the atmosphere.  Everyone rode well.
  • Hayley Langland’s rail game was on point.
  • Spencer O’Brien got a well-deserved gold.
  • Later in the afternoon, I wound up meeting Christy Prior at the Lifeproof booth, and she said it was a really great day to ride.
    day2-dad0340 (more…)

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)
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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

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

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?

The last two days have been a test of my determination to watch the X Games. I wound up missing Day 1 and part of Day 2 because of work and a photoshoot. On top of that, AT&T doesn’t have WatchESPN access so I had to go hunting for a TV with cable, dinner and Mountain Dew in tow. When I found one, I wound up losing my pen. It’s been a fight to see the action, but I’m glad I was able to catch what I did.

Ski thoughts

  • The TrickTrack on the X Games site is really cool, but it takes away part of the fun of my job.
  • Sarah Burke would’ve been proud of what went down in Women’s Ski SuperPipe. Everyone except Jen Hudak (who’s coming back from injury) did a 900.
  • Annalisa Drew, a rookie, tried to go for the 1260. That’s definitely a way to get noticed.
  • The walls are 22 feet. Roz Groenewoud soared 14+ feet over that.
  • The defending gold medalist goes last, which creates potential drama. In this case, we had Maddie Bowman snagging the top spot early on and Roz trying to knock her off.
  • In the Men’s SuperPipe final, Simon Dumont made a comeback. He gave quite an impressive performance considering it’s his first comp after his injury and he’s got pins in his wrist and no poles.
  • Newcomer Aaron Blunck showed a lot of potential. He goes fast and huge, but he’s gotta learn to not be so squirrelly.
  • Kevin Rolland had good run until he clipped his ribs on last trick. That looked like a painful way to go down.
  • I’ve heard a lot about the effectiveness of visualization, and maybe the claims are true. It seemed to have helped David Wise, who was shown spinning his helmet.
  • He did the first back-to-back double cork 1080, spinning in both directions.
  • Joffrey Pollet-Villard got so much amplitude, over 23 feet.
  • Torin Yater-Wallace put up a really awesome fight for gold, especially since he was coming off of an injury and doing tricks he hadn’t tried since summer.
  • David Wise got second highest score in Ski SuperPipe history. The highest belongs to Candide Thovex.davidwise_zps27b09eba photo davidwise_zps27b09eba.jpg (From Aspen/Snowmass Instagram)

Snowboard thoughts

  • Triples (corks and rodeos) are the trick to winning Snowboard Big Air. Because the standings are determined by your two highest scores, it’s good to have different variations in the bag.
  • I did wish the judges gave more style points though.
  • Halldor Helgason took a hard fall and wound up getting a concussion. Hope he gets well soon!
  • Ståle Sandbech got an early lead with the competition trailing behind by more than 20 points for much of the evening.
  • Backside triples are harder than Cab triples so Mark McMorris’ only got a 38. It’s unbelievable to consider that triple corks were the winning trick last year.
  • Also crazy is Ulrik Badertscher getting a low score for a 1620.
  • Guys were crashing all over the place trying their triple cork variation.
  • The Big Air finals really proved that you can’t be too comfy sitting up top, especially when you’re against a hot bed of talent. Ståle didn’t try to better his score (not that I blame him because the guys were getting really beat-up), and that wound up costing him.
  • There could not have been a more dramatic conclusion. Last two riders on their last jumps, both former gold medalists, do tricks that have never been stomped in competition (and in Mark’s case, never done period) after spending most of the contest wiping out. Both Mark McMorris and Torstein Horgmo made it count although they both seemed really surprised too.

Snowmobile thoughts

  • Even though I wasn’t present to see the contest, I did watch the video of Levi LaVallee’s run and he has definitely made a comeback.
  • I also want to send well wishes to the Moore brothers. Caleb Moore has had surgery for his heart contusion. Colton Moore has been treated for a dislocated pelvis.

Congratulations to our gold medalists: Levi LaValle (Snowmobile Freestyle), Louis-Felix Paradis (Snowboard Street and Real Street judges’ vote), Maddie Bowman (Women’s Ski SuperPipe), David Wise (Men’s Ski SuperPipe), and  Torstein Horgmo (Snowboard Big Air)!

Prediction Status: 2/3
Quote of the Day: “She would fall harder than any other girl, and she would get back up and do it again until she got it.” – Maddie Bowman, on Sarah Burke
Trick of the Day: Torstein Horgmo’s switch backside triple cork 1440, with Mark McMorris’ Cab triple underflip 1440 in a a close second
Inspiration of the Day: Simon Dumont – He came out for the fans despite having surgery last December. He couldn’t use poles and still got bronze.
Question of the Day: Do you think skiing is becoming more popular than snowboarding? (The New York Times thinks so.)

Winter X had some scary wipe-outs, and updates on the athletes came sporadically following the Games.  I’ve decided to compile all the info I found on the injured athletes.

  • Lindsey Jacobellis (boardercross) – torn left ACL
  • Alex Schlopy (ski) – damage to meniscus
  • Wing Tai Barrymore (ski) – torn ACLs
  • Sammy Carlson (ski) – partially torn right ACL
  • Justin Dorey (ski) – partially dislocated left shoulder, contusions and bruising on right leg and both hips
  • Justin Hoyer (snowmobile) – broken right arm, broken left tibia and fibia

Caleb Moore (snowmobile) and Duncan Adams (ski) were also injured during practice.   If I remember the commentary, Caleb had a bruised tailbone.  There weren’t any specifics about Duncan’s crash other than that it led to him walking around on crutches during Winter X and sitting out on the last stop of the Dew Tour.

Speaking of the Dew Tour, the final contest in Snow Basin was last week.  Here are the winners of the Dew Cup, as well recipients of special awards.

  • Ski slopestyle – Kaya Turski and Tom Wallisch
  • Ski superpipe – Devin Logan and Kevin Rolland
  • Snowboard slopestyle – Spencer O’Brien and Sebastien Toutant
  • Snowboard superpipe – Kelly Clark and Louie Vito
  • Ballpark Rookie of the Year – Jake Aaronson (snowboard) and Alex Bellmare (ski)
  • Mitch Breakthrough Athlete of the Year – Devin Logan (ski) and Nick Goepper (ski)
  • Toyota Athlete of the Year – Kaya Turski, Tom Wallisch, Spencer O’Brien, and Kelly Clark

Even though the two biggest ski and snowboard events have wrapped up, there’s still plenty of action on the slopes.  Red Bull Supernatural will air March 31.  The invite-only contest devised by Travis Rice pit veterans like Terje Haakonsen against rising stars like Mark McMorris (and apparently makes ESPN reference Star Wars).

"Terje Haakonsen and Mark McMorris -- Obi-Wan and Luke. This is simultaneously the greatest example of the legend generation taking an interest in passing on knowledge to legends in the making, and just straight up adorable." - Danny Zapalac (ESPN)

The Legendary Mt. Baker Slalom also featured old school and new school competitors, as well as Kevin Pearce’s return to competition.  Freeskiiers will have their own back-country event with the Red Bull Cold Rush in a couple of weeks.

If you’ve felt left out when all your friends and co-workers talk fantasy football and basketball, come join me with a fantasy league that’s closer to our style: Fantasy Freeride League.  The site also gives you the latest news in freeskiing.

I’ve been ill the past couple of days so the last of my notes is coming to you rather late. As a result of the tardiness and prior commitments keeping me from watching half of the weekend action, I decided to combine my notes. A lot of exciting stuff happened so this is kind of a long one (the videos are worth it though).

Ski thoughts

  • The SuperPipe ladies definitely made Sarah Burke proud. Brita Sigourney nailed the first 1080, a trick first done by Sarah, in pipe competition on her last run. Sarah’s friend/teammate Roz Groenwoud captured the win with a record-breaking 93.66.
    WXG16-day3
    Roz soars to an emotional victory.  Photo by Kristin Braga Wright, special to The Denver Post
  • The men’s final was extra tense with a lot of the favorites off their game. The “unforgiving” pipe saw many hard slams: one slip-up and you were done.
  • Noah Bowman is a guy to watch for in the future. He was a second alternate who made it into the finals and was the only person doing a double flatspin alley-oop 900.
  • Torin Yater-Wallace does an alley-oop 360 to set up for a double cork.
  • David Wise was on fire during the entire X Games. He had the most technically difficult start with a switch double cork 1080.
  • Those who tuned in on ABC were met with the scary aftermath of Justin Dorey’s slam onto solid ice. He was able to walk off but wound up dislocating his shoulder.
  • Mike Riddle had an unfortunate accident: he grabbed too hard on his ski and pulled it right off as he was spinning.
  • Three was supposed to be Kevin Rolland’s lucky number, as he was looking for his three-peat. He also wore #333 and had three double corks in the bag. However, he wound up being about three inches off his line in his third run, which led to a crash and no medal.
  • The Sport Science feature on the properties of snow gave audiences an idea of how making Ski Superpipe in the daytime and Snowboard Slopestyle at night would affect athletes’ performances. 
  • There was apparently some controversy with Women’s Skier X. Langely McNeal got disqualified from the finals after the French team complained about the band and hair tie she wore around her right leg. The International Ski Federation has strict rules about aerodynamic clothing in skicross, but X Games isn’t governed by the FIS. What I find ironic is that the French were known for wearing tight ski suit-like outfits while the other skicross competitors wore baggier clothes.

Snowboard thoughts

  • Your vote did count for Real Snow Fan Favorite. Louis Paradis beat Halldór Helgason by just 32 votes (it was exactly 50-50 when I voted).
  • Dominique Maltais had been the one to watch during Women’s Boarder X qualifiers, and she came out on top.
  • Nate Holland said that there’s only a one-year lease on the gold.
  • Men’s Boarder X had a dramatic finish with leaders Stian Sivertzen and Pierre Vaultier crashing into each other on the second to last turn. This allowed the Americans (Nate, Nick Baumgartner, and Jayson Hale) to sweep the podium.
    WXG16-day4, from X Games facebook page Nate and Nick approach the finish line.  Photo from X Games facebook page
  • Shaun White dropped out of Slopestyle due to a sprained ankle, but nothing could stop him in SuperPipe.
  • One of the advantages Shaun has is his skateboarding background. Snowboarders have two edges to land on whereas skateboarders have to land exactly on their wheels. As a result, Shaun is able to stick his runs very smoothly. I still like to think that his pants were key.
    WXG16-Shaun White, By Aaron Ontiveroz of The Denver Post
    Shaun catches huge air on what’s probably a double cork.  Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz of the
    Denver Post
  • “Darn” – Luke Mitrani on his first run fall
  • The SuperPipe finalists had to take an all-or-nothing approach to their most difficult and unique tricks to even hope to win: Iouri Podladtchikov’s switch double McTwist 1260 – didn’t happen and settled for silver. Greg Bretz’s double Michaelchuk – crashed. Matt Ladley’s double McTwist 1260 – crashed. Ryo Aono’s backside 1080 – stomped and bumped him up to third.
  • Not to be outdone, Shaun had a trick of his own to go for: the frontside doublecork 1260. He landed it on this third run, which scored him a 100 and was also supposed to be his victory lap.

Snowmobile thoughts

  • I don’t think I’ve been so nervous watching the X Games since the 2006 Summer X Games where Travis Pastrana did the double back flip. It was rather apropos with Justin Hoyer attempting the double and Heath Frisby trying the front flip. I don’t know who’s crazier.
  • According to Levi Lavalle, who attempted the double back flip in 2009, you only have three seconds to spot the landing.
  • Justin under-rotated, and everyone’s worst nightmare came true. Luckily he was conscious and moving.
  • I really have to commend Heath’s nerves of steel because he was right after Justin, and he committed all the way. He made the front flip look easy, but when you think about what the sled is doing, it blows your mind.
  • The trick to landing a front flip is to go faster (40 mph vs. 35 mph) and make sure you don’t land on the tail of the snowmobile.
  • Joe Parsons was so stoked for his good buddy nailing the front flip that he almost forgot that he was up next.
  • When you can’t compete with a crazy trick, you can do one of two things: play to the crowd like the Moore brothers or kick it old school with a whip like Corey Davis.

I’ve got a huge list of winners to whom I’d like to extend my congrats:
From Saturday – Roz Groenwoud (Women’s Ski SuperPipe), David Wise (Men’s Ski SuperPipe), Dan Brise (Real Snow), Nate Holland (Men’s Boarder X), Dominique Maltais (Women’s Boarder X), Mark McMorris (Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle), and Bobby Brown (Ski Big Air)
From Sunday – Chris del Bosco (Men’s Skier X), Marte Gjefsen (Women’s Skier X), Samson Danniels (Mono Skier X), Heath Frisby (Snowmobile Best Trick), and Shaun White (Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe)

Prediction Status: 7/16 – Much better than last year, and six of my incorrect predictions still made the podium
Quote of the Day: “[Sarah] rode with me on that run.” – Nate Holland
Trick of the Day: front flip on a snowmobile
Inspiration of the Day: Shaun White – Love him or hate him, he pushed a lot of snowboarders to give it their all and took the sport to a new level

Question of the Day: Had Justin landed the double back flip, who do you think would have won?

Even though we live in the computer age, I have learned that sometimes the internet cannot replace good ol’ cable TV. My X Games viewing experience got off to a frustrating start, as I struggled with remote access and connection issues. There’s nothing worse than having your connection die right when you’re about to see if someone is going to snag gold on their last run (Kaya Turski) or what their new trick looks like (Joe Parsons’ “gator wrassler”, which I missed twice!). I also had to miss out on street snowboarding.

Nevertheless, I managed to catch some sick ski slopestyle action and freestyle snowmobiling, as well the amazing celebration of Sarah Burke’s legacy which thankfully went uninterrupted. The candlelit process down the halfpipe was beautiful, and it made me cry. Then I smiled because that’s what Sarah was known for and what she would want us to do.

Ski thoughts

  • Tom Wallisch throws double backflips for fun.  Something isn’t right about that…or the fact that it doesn’t give you a high score (welcome to the X Games).
  • Russ Henshaw and Anna Segal were celebrating Australia Day with bright yellow jackets.
  • Devon Logan had a great run but only spun in one direction (left). Nevertheless she was able to get a high score. Perhaps it was the multitude of switch tricks.
  • Slopestyle had lots of drama: Alex Schlopy was injured but still competed; defending champ Sammy Carlson not qualifying; and this year’s winners getting the gold on their last runs.
  • Very bummed about missing Kaya Turski’s switch 1080, the first by a female skier, live. Thank goodness for recaps.
  • Tom called himself a “second-run guy” at Killington. Now it’s more accurate to call him a “last-run guy”.
  • Andreas Hatveit’s double cork octo grab (both hands on skis) was a picture-worthy trick.
  • 17-year-old rookie Nick Goepper put up a good fight. Notice how the young rookies have been coming in and making their mark? There was Bobby Brown in 2010, Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Schlopy in 2011, and now Nick.

Snowmobile thoughts

  • The Moore brothers seemed intent on giving me a heart attack with so many close calls. First there was Colton’s 120 foot fall, which he bounced back on. Then Caleb’s fingers slid down the seat, losing one hand’s grip, before he got back on.
  • It was noted that Colton may have been the happiest person to have fallen from over 100 feet.
  • More speed = more tricks = Joe Parsons leading for a bit.
  • An “aww” moment happened when it was revealed that Caleb’s motivation came from seeing his little brother crash and then get a high score. The Moores are up there with the Elrics and Wincesters when it comes to brotherly love.
  • Heath Frisby played it safe. Apparently the front flip has been on his mind. Now I’m nervous for him.
  • Joe seems to have a Travis Pastrana-like super tweaked, almost-squirrely style.
  • Colton’s no-handed flip extension is also really sick; it’s like he’s about to come off the bike.
  • I have totally been proved wrong about which Moore brother is the better rider. Stoked about both of them getting two spots on the podium—who says Texans can’t ride snowmobiles?
  • Something worth noting about the Moores: even though they’ve only been riding snowmobiles for 3 years, they have had experience with doing freestyle on ATVs. So it’s not like you can instantly become a freestyle snowmobiler.
  • Also, the way Colton twisted around to have his back take the impact shows exactly how skilled these athletes are. Knowing how to fall can make the difference between walking away and being seriously injured.

Congratulations to Kaya Turski (Women’s Ski Slopestyle), Forest Bailey (Snowboard Street), Colton Moore (Snowmobile Freestyle), and Tom Wallisch (Men’s Ski Slopestyle) for grabbing the gold!

Prediction Status: 2/3
Quote of the Day: “If you are looking for her legacy, you will find it in all the faces you see here tonight and all those that line halfpipes and come down mountains for years and years to come. That is where you will find Sarah Burke.” – Sal Masakela
Trick of the Day: Andreas Hatveit’s double cork
Inspiration of the Day: Sarah Burke
CelebrateSarah, from official X Games Tumblr
from the official X Games Tumblr
Question of the Day: What did you think of Colton Moore’s Tebowing?

I don’t think I’ve had a harder time making predictions.  It’s not because I’ve added snowmobile events and taken more time to deliberate, but rather, everyone has stepped up their game.  Even though we’ve got some possible two- and three-peats, there are many challengers who have made a name for themselves in the past year.  To mix things up even more, injuries have taken several big names out of the competition.  There’s no doubt that the 2012 Winter X Games will be exciting to watch.

Women’s Skier X – Hedda Berntsen
The favorites are all out due to injury, but don’t count out Hedda Berntsen.  She won silver at the Olympics and has a background in multiple skiing disciplines that might just give her the extra edge.

Men’s Skier X – Chris del Bosco
Chris del Bosco definitely has the speed.  He was barely edged out for the gold last year, and he’s going to let that fuel his competitive spirit.

Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Kaya Turski
Although Kaya Turski is going to have some tough competition in her quest for a three-peat, she just came off a Dew Tour win at Killington.  Last March, she became the first woman to land a switch 1080, and she’s got a whole bunch of other technical tricks that will make her stand out.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Tom Wallisch
Tom Wallisch has been dominating the Dew Tour which his rail combos and back-to-back double corks.  He has a tendency to get it together at the last minute, but if that means he thrives under pressure, then he’ll be poised to take the win.

Women’s Ski SuperPipe – Brita Sigourney
Brita Sigourney had a great season last year, and she’s keeping the momentum going with a Grand Prix World Cup win and a third at Killington.  She’s got an arsenal of rotations and always packs in as many hits as possible.

Men’s Ski SuperPipe – Kevin Rolland
While Torin Yater-Wallace may be the It Boy and and the guy who can beat” Kevin Rolland, the two-time defending gold medalist is going to put up a fight.  He is one of the most consistent skiers around, and he links doubles like they’re nothing.

Ski Big Air – Bobby Brown
Last year, Bobby Brown was plagued with injury.  Now that he’s back in full health, watch him throw down some insane tricks… like possibly a variation on the triple cork (which he was the first skier to stomp).

Women’s Snowboarder X – Maëlle Ricker
Lindsey Jacobellis had been my pick until she tore her ACL in today’s practice.  This leaves the door for her rival (and Olympic gold medalist), Maëlle Ricker, to slide into a third X Games victory.

Men’s Snowboarder X – Nate Holland
Hot off an FIS World Cup win, Nate Holland is looking to reclaim the top spot.  He has the drive and the aggressive style that will send him to the lead.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Jamie Anderson
It was hard to pick a winner with so many awesome skiers in the field, but rail tricks are going separate out the best.  Jamie Anderson has the technical tricks, big spins, and smooth style that has brought her many victories already. 

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Sebastian Toutant
Like the ladies, any of the guys could easily claim the top spot.  However, Sebastian Toutant has some of the biggest, cleanest tricks, and his recent second place finishes will be fuel for him to step up his game.

Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Kelly Clark
Recently, Kelly Clark has dominated women’s pipe the same way Shawn White has dominated men’s, winning the last twelve contests she has entered.  Although her competitors are starting to close the gap, she has hinted at new tricks that will make her stand out.

Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Iouri Podladtchikov
If there is one man who can end Shaun White’s reign, it is Iouri Podladtchikov.  He has one-upped Shaun’s double McTwist 1260 by doing it switch, and if he was playing it safe at last week’s competition (which he won), then he’s definitely got a winning run up his sleeve.

Snowboarding Big Air – Torstein Horgmo
Torstein Horgmo threw the first triple cork in competition while injured, and he was pissed… because the landing wasn’t perfect.  This is the type of competitor he is so while others have done the triple now, he’s likely to find something completely unexpected.

Freestyle Snowmobile – Heath Frisby
Freestyle gold had eluded Heath Frisby, but with favorites Levi Lavalle and Daniel Bodin injured (apparently one day apart from one another), this veteran and innovator has the opportunity to rise to the top. 

Snowmobile Best Trick – Caleb Moore
Last year, we got a taste of the insanity that the Moore brothers are capable of.  Caleb is a bit more skilled of the two, and not only does he have the creativity to come up with new tricks, but he also demonstrates the commitment to pull off combos.