Posts Tagged ‘in memoriam’

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).
    day3_3918
  • 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).

day3_3925
He’s so tall and I’m so short that I wasn’t sure we’d fit in the frame. (more…)

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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

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.

I’m deeply saddened by the death of freestyle motocross rider Eigo Sato.  He was the first Asian FMXer I knew of, which meant a lot to me.  I felt closer to the sport I loved seeing someone from the side of the world my family is from. Eigo also helped out Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  He stayed strong despite losing his office and having family struggling with the nuclear crisis in his hometown of Iwaki. The FMX community already knows how great of a person he was, and I thought people outside of the action sports world should do. Since I also run a blog about Japanese culture, I decided to pay tribute by highlighting his achievements there. Click here to read the post.

A fellow motocross fan shared this touching tribute, and I wanted to pass it along:

RIP Eigo Sato 1978/2013 by mm-prod

My thoughts and prayers remain with his family and friends. Ride in peace, Eigo.

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.
 photo Winter_X_Games_Aspen13_10_1_zpsa6e8b052.jpg
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

The action sports world lost some key figures last year, and I thought I would pay tribute to them all here. The links are different videos I found of them.

Freeskier Sarah Burke died on January 19, nine days after crashing on the halfpipe. She suffered a cardiac arrest, which led to irreversible brain damage. She was a pioneer in her sport, being the first woman to do a 1080 and lobbying to bring freeskiing to the Olympics. Winter X Games 16 held a touching tribute that celebrated her contributions and her love of life. She was 29.

Freestyle BMX rider Mike Tag died on April 13 after a year-long battle with Stage ll Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A member of the FBM team, he is remembered for his burly street and trail riding, immortalized in videos like “1201” and “All Time Low”. He was 37.

Freestyle BMX rider Randy “The Don” Taylor was found dead on August 19 in his home. He was known for combining technicality with huge tricks in videos like “Stoked On Being Pumped”, “Road Fools 17”, and “Let’s Get Mystical”. He was 26.

Skate and snowboard pioneer Tom Sims died from cardiac arrest on September 12. He created the first snowboard with metal edges, the first women’s model, the first pro-model, and the first longboard for skateboarding. He also helped develop the first freestyle snowboarding contests and sponsored action sports legends like Christian Hosoi, Craig Kelly, Steve Fisher, and Tony Hawk. He was 62.

BMX racer Kyle Bennett was killed in a single-vehicle auto accident on October 14. He was the first rider to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic BMX team and is a three-time UCI World champion and NBL champion. He was 33.

While I was geeking it up at Dallas Comic Con two weeks ago, Overground Skateboarding was hosting their 2nd annual tribute to legend Jeff Phillips. I was really bummed that I didn’t hear about it until afterwards (probably would have skipped DCC) because it sounded like a cool event and it was benefited The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Dallas.

Back in the 1980s, when Dallas was a skateboarding hot spot, Jeff Phillips was one of the biggest names. He gave Christian Hosoi and Tony Hawk a run for their money and proved that you could win a vert contest without pulling a McTwist. The Phillips 66 (an inverted flip with a fakie approached) is named after him, and the tribute name, Boneless One, comes from his signature trick: a frontside boneless. Jeff ran his own skatepark and dedicated his life to the local skate scene. In 1993, Jeff committed suicide.

Rolling Stone
did an feature on his life and the circumstances surrounding his death (personal troubles and the decline of the sport). We’ll never know what happened, but in the end, that’s not what is important. It’s his life and his love of skateboarding that everyone who came out to Boneless One celebrated. Even if the Dallas scene is not what it used to be, I’d like to think that it is very much alive and that Jeff would be proud.
TH8501, From http://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/magazine/january-1985/
Jeff Phillips doing a frontside boneless on the Jan. ’85 cover of Thrasher

A personal note I want to add: I am here for anybody who has thought about taking their own life and needs someone to talk to. I may not know you or know what to say, but I’ve been in that dark place and being part of the action sports community did help pull me out.

Freeskiing lost a pioneer yesterday, Sarah Burke.  The four-time X Games gold medalist had been in critical condition since her crash on January 10.  Although the action sports community is extremely saddened by the news, we remember her great achievements.

Sarah helped bring attention to female skiers during a time when she had to compete with the men or was turned away from competition. She was also the first woman to land a 720, 900, and 1080 in competition. She also lobbied for women’s slopestyle in the X Games and ski superpipe in the 2014 Winter Olympics. In both cases, her wish came true.

Outside of competition, Sarah devoted her time to philanthropic work, held clinics for up-and-coming skiers, and was featured in several magazines. She even designed a level in the video game LittleBigPlanet. Before her accident, she had asked that her organs and tissues be donated.

Her crash took place on the same pipe that almost took snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s life. This eerie coincidence, along with the string of accidents in many forms of actions sports last year, raises a question about safety. However, Park City Eagle Superpipe is not blame, and we can’t fault the athletes for wanting to push their sport further. To quote Joe O’Conner of National Post, “This is not a safety issue.  This is a life issue.”

Nevertheless, I wonder if more can be done for skiing and snowboarding, just as freestyle motocross riders started to wear neck braces in response to the serious accidents that have happened. Last night on Conan, Shaun White talked about how the pipes are now lined with airbags so that athletes can safely practice their tricks. However, there comes a point when he has to decide whether he wants to do it on pipe itself, and that is what it boils down to. Athletes like Sarah, her husband Rory Bushfield, Kevin, and Shaun will continue to take risks that they deem worthy of taking. At the end of the day, it’s not about gold medals or progression; it’s about doing what they love.

Rest in peace, Sarah.

It has been a sad week for action sports. First, we learned that James Van Doren, co-founder of Vans, lost his battle with cancer last month. Then today, freestyle motocross rider Jim McNeil died during practice for a demo.

James Van Doren’s legacy will live on through probably the most recognizable skate shoe brand, thanks to an appearance in Fast Times at Ridegemont High. The irony is that he, in collaboration with a chemist, had made the rubber soles for sailors. Skaters discovered that the shoes will help their feet stick to the boards better, and the rest is history.

Despite my recent grudge against the company with dropping the lone female skater on their team (and the first to get a shoe sponsor), Cara Beth Burnside, I still really like shoes. They were durable and stylish; I even got away with wearing a pair of black ones to some semi-formal events. Vans was my favorite store in mall as a teenager so I will never forget Mr. Van Doren’s contributions.

This morning, Jim McNeil crashed during practice for the Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com exhibition at the Texas Motor Speedway.  No detail about the accident have been released other than that he was flown to the hospital, where he pronounced dead.   the Phoenix-born rider wasn’t the biggest name of FMX, but he was a familiar face at the X Games, Dew Tour, and Nuclear Cowboyz.  As said on Freestylemx.com’s facebook page (where I first read the news), “Today we mourn the loss of Jim McNeil and remember the happiness he brought us all. You will never be forgotten because you were AND still are the Real Deal. We love you buddy.”

The friends and family of both James Van Doren and Jim McNeil will be in my thoughts. Rest in peace, guys.

Update from FreestyleMX.com: “Jim McNeil’s funeral service will be held on Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at CCv-Christ’s Church of the Valley. The address is 7007 W. Happy Valley Rd. Peoria, AZ 85382 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All friends and family are welcome. Please share this information with those who may find it useful. Thank You”

Many of you may have already heard the news, but it is with a heavy heart that I must inform any unknowing freestyle motocross fans that Jeff “Ox” Kargola died on April 29, 2011. The Metal Mulisha team member crashed and sustained a head injury and internal bleeding. He was riding in the Desert Assassins’ 2011 Rip to the Tip race across Baja California.

Here is a tribute video that Boost Mobile created:

The Metal Mulisha is looking for fan photos and stories of Ox. If you have any, go to his tribute page.

Although I never got to meet him, I remember seeing him as a new pro (at the age of 16) on what is now Fuel TV. He has always been an innovator, and his riding only got better as the years passed by. My heart goes out to his family, the Metal Mulisha, and all his other close friends. He will be greatly missed. Ride on, Ox. 1983-2011

Listening to: “It May Seem Dark” by Quoth the Raven