Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Pearce’

Around the time I began my new job in the Department of Neuroscience, BMX rider Brett Banasiewicz sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a crash. That was when I started to connect the dots between science and action sports with the realization that not only could action sports make science more interested, but science could help action sports. Too many action sports athletes were sustaining terrible injuries that they couldn’t just bounce back from. The impact of TBI on football players had generated a lot of buzz, but what about the other sports?

Last February, I went to the 2014 Paul M. Bass Neurosurgery Symposium on Traumatic Brain Injury to learn about the latest treatments and prevention methods and to find a way to pass this onto the action sports community. We don’t have a single governing body like the NHL or NFL even though medical staff at events have been doing a wonderful job. Worse is that kids aren’t doing this at school or in a club so the environment can’t be controlled. Sure we have Camp Woodward, but you also have kids who go to the parks on their own or just hit the streets. The action sports community has to educate itself, as well as the doctors who don’t know what someone was doing to have wound up with an injury or the rationale behind wanting to recover ASAP (I’m reminded of the scene in The Crash Reel where Kevin Pearce argues with his family and doctor about hitting the slopes again).
crash reel poster
The Crash Reel and Kevin’s story also helped spark my interest in neuroscience research related to TBI.

Probably the most relevant fact I learned from the symposium was that helmets don’t prevent concussions. But don’t ditch your helmet just yet! They do help against head injuries as a whole by preventing skull fractures and hemorrhaging, but they do nothing to keep the brain from getting jostled inside the skull. Therefore, we need to start examining other ways to minimize TBI in addition to promoting helmet use.

In the case of football, the best proposed solution was modified behavior. Players are learning the proper technique to tackle and block while coaches keep an eye on risky habits that need correction. Now action sports outside of the Olympics generally don’t utilize coaches, but newcomers have to learn from somebody (or something). It is important to pass along knowledge of how to fall in a way that minimizes injury and to know the techniques behind moves like the double cork which bring the head close to another object. Although it’s fun to see people hucking big tricks, a little bit of planning could save a life.

Scientists and doctors are working to better address when injuries do happen. The 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport has released definitions and guidelines for proper diagnosis, treatment, and management. Less than 10% of TBIs result in loss of consciousness so I recommend looking at their list of symptoms to know whether your friend should go to the hospital.

The symposium also introduced ways scientists have been studying TBI. Most of the research has focused on football players and military veterans even though the majority of TBI actually results from falls and car crashes. I decided to look up any possible studies involving action sports, and to my surprise, I found that Weber State University students used Dew Tour competitors for their subjects last year. The linked article discusses looking at the athletes’ blood for biomarkers, which can be anything from genes, enzymes, cells, or even a measurement (think blood pressure). TBI, or any sort of injury, triggers cell death so scientists can look at neurons for damage or check for the contents that dead cells release.

This past season, the students also employed the Shockbox, helmet sensors that detect head acceleration upon impact. The results could be used to determine course changes that would keep athletes from hitting their heads as hard. The takehome message is that we all have to work together to make action sports safer without having to compromise the fun of pushing the human body.

I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of posting. It’s almost time for Winter X Europe and I have yet to recap what went down in Aspen. My sincerest apologies. It took me a while to decide what I ought to do for my Winter X recap, and then this weekend, inspiration struck.

I am looking back at my favorite moments of Winter X Games 15 Oscars style. Now this seems a little bizarre, but the Winter X is full of action, drama, surprises, carnage, tears, unique characters, and triumphs of the human spirit… just like the movies. Also, similar to an awards show, the X Games has excited winners, speeches of gratitude, controversial decisions, and crazy fashion. Without further ado, here are your winners in the first ever Academy of TtPoX Awards for Winter X.

Best Newcomer – Sebastien Toutant (Snowboarding Slopestyle)
This year, we saw a lot of fresh faces on the podium. Many were surprises, but Sebastien Toutant made his intentions clear during slopestyle elimination. Armed with a bag of double cork variations, he clocked in a 97.00, the highest score ever. Then he led a pack of teenage shredders onto the podium, indicating that a new era of slopestyle has begun.
Other nominees: Torin Yater-Wallace (Ski Superpipe), Alex Schlopy (Ski Big Air)

Best Trick – Daniel Bodin’s double grab backflip (Snowmobile Best Trick)
This category is full of personal biases, but let me explain how my top choice was not the triple cork. First, to be nitpicky, Torstein did have a hand drag. Second, I’m a moto girl so a double grab flip is something that I never thought would happen. A double grab right-side up is still impressive. So to do on a much heavier snowmobile is just out of this world. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the trick, Daniel Bodin has to let go of his sled while it/he is upside down. The trick’s level of danger is something I don’t even want to think about, and Daniel pulled it off like it was nothing.
Other nominees: Scotty Lago’s method (Snowboard Best Method), Torstein Horgmo’s triple cork (Snowboard Big Air)

Best Athlete in a Snowmobile Event – Tucker Hibbert (Snocross)
Tucker Hibbert is so good snowmobiling that the freestylers dread the day he decides to learn some flips (fortunately for them, that doesn’t seem on Tucker’s agenda in the near future). Despite getting the last gate pick in qualifiers, he still got the holeshot and led the race, proving that starting position doesn’t matter when you have the speed, skill, and determination. He then led every lap of the finals. Tucker’s victory made him the second Winter X athlete to five-peat and the SnoCross racer with the most gold medals: a whopping six.
Other nominees: Caleb Moore (Snowmobile Best Trick), Daniel Bodin (Freestyle Snowmobiling)

Best Female Athlete in a Ski Event – Kelsey Serwa (Skier X)
While Kelsey Serwa’s win might not have been as clean or painless as her freestyling peers, it showed what the X Games are all about: balls-out courage and risk-taking with a little bit of stupidity. She and Ophelie David could have played it safe, but instead, they showed that the women are just as tough as the men by flying through the last kicker in their close race and crashing across the finish line. Kelsey’s determination paid off as she fended off the four-time champion to a hard-earned victory.
Other nominees: Sarah Burke (Ski Superpipe), Kaya Turski (Ski Slopestyle)

Best Male Athlete in a Ski Event – Kevin Rolland (Ski Superpipe)
Kevin Rolland found himself in a precarious position in the Superpipe finals: defending gold medalist out of podium contention after two runs, a newcomer having just overtaken one of the favorites for the top spot, last run of the night with all eyes on him. A lesser man would have caved under the pressure, but Kevin nailed back-to-back spins in both directions, showing why he is dominating Ski Superpipe right now.
Other nominees: Torin Yater-Wallace (Ski Superpipe), John Teller (Skier X)

Best Female Athlete in a Snowboard Event – Kelly Clark (Snowboard Superpipe)
Kelly Clark’s willingness to push herself and her sport is why she has remained one of the top snowboarders for ten years. She didn’t even have to take her last run; her first run was the highest scoring of the night and the only one to break the 90s. However, Kelly spiced up her victory with the first 1080… in the middle of the run. She’s the first woman to do one in competition, and I think it’s safe to say that she’ll be the only one to do it mid-run for a while.
Other nominees: Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboarder X), Enni Rukajärvi (Snowboard Slopestyle)

Best Male Athlete in a Snowboard Event – Torstein Horgmo (Snowboard Big Air)
You’ve all seen the video now. Sal Masakela compared it to other epic X Games moments, like Tony Hawk’s 900 and Travis Pastrana’s double backflip. While he may not be a household name, Torstein Horgmo goes down in history for landing the first triple cork in competition… on a kicker that probably wasn’t meant for such a trick… with broken ribs. You know what the most unbelievable part is? He wasn’t satisfied at all. Nevertheless, Torstein deserves recognition for taking risks (he wound up with a concussion), never quitting (he fell on the previous two attempts), and pushing his sport to a new level. Did I mention that he competed in Slopestyle the two days later?
Other nominees: Scotty Lago (Snowboard Superpipe), Sebastien Toutant (Snowboard Slopestyle)

Best Finals Event – Men’s Ski Superpipe
What inspired this Oscar-style recap was the dramatic moments in Winter X, and man, there were a lot of contests that kept me on the edge of my seat. In talking about Kevin Rolland, I described a scenario that could be the climactic scene of a movie. We had your fresh-faced rookie in awe of skiing with his heroes, the seasoned vet focused on winning, and the defending champ who had one last chance at victory. There was suspense, tears, cheers, disappointment, shock, and of course, mind-blowing stunts from our competitors.
Other nominees: Snowmobile Best Trick, Snowboard Big Air

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Kevin Pearce returns to Winter X in good spirits.
Thanks to the support of the snowboarding community and broadcast TV coverage, Kevin Pearce became a household name and an inspiration. Last year, he was in critical condition. We followed his road to recovery, and to see him in good health and loving life was a moment worthy of a few tears.
Other nominees: Nick Baumgartner celebrates his first X Games gold with his son. Athletes take a stand against cyber-bullying in PSA (see below and find out which Olympian doesn’t Tweet).

Lifetime Achievement Award – Peter Line
Snowboarding would not be where it is today without Peter Line and his rodeos. We wouldn’t have the double corks that are now a competition staple and triple corks that are the latest headline makers. He created one of the most influential group of riders, the original Forum 8. The man was a pioneer with a career that spans more than 20 decades, and it was very cool for Winter X to have him show off some old school style in the Best Method comp.

Listening to: “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails

Sorry for the delay.  It’s kind of hard to post when X Games action has been going on all day and you have to work when it’s not (sometimes when it’s going on).

This isn’t a recap; you can get all the highlights and results at EXPN.com . I just decided to put down some fun facts and insights I gleaned from watching the web broadcast. Also, you’ll get to see how well I’m doing with my predictions. In here are my Day 0 (name thus because the announcers called yesterday “Day 1” even though web broadcast began the day before) as well.

Ski thoughts

  • Way to give me a heart attack, guys.  My picks for SuperPipe and Slopestyle, Simon Dumont and Bobby Brown, looked like they weren’t going to qualify in the beginning, and Kevin Rolland found himself in the unlikely position of 5th. Luckily they all made it to the finals (with Kevin killing the competition).
  • Kaya Turski (Slopestyle) also had me worried.  Her victory wasn’t so easy this time around… though I thought her Kaya’s run would’ve been more than 0.33 points higher than second place.  It was much smoother, and she mixed up technical grinds with huge spins.
  • The X Course must be super gnarly because seven skiers and snowboarders, including Ashleigh McIvor (Skier X) who injured her knee, have pulled out. Get well soon, Ashleigh!
  • Jen Hudak (SuperPipe) showed that you have to be perfect. She pretty much did the 1080 and was riding away when it all went wrong at the last minute. Too bad you don’t get points for big cajones.
  • Pipe ladies were jamming out to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Old school and new school!

Snowboard thoughts

  • How the heck can Shaun White move, much less snowboard, in pants that tight?
  • Even though he looks bigger, Kazuhiro Kokubo is 5’3″ while Louie Vito is 5’5″.
  • Some math from someone in the booth (Kevin Pearce or Keir Dillon), Louie Vito launches at a 60-degree angle versus Shaun White’s 85-degree angle. Thus, his amplitude is not as high.
  • Scotty Lago, you crazy S.O.B.!  Two weeks ago, Scotty broke his jaw, and everybody figured he was out of the Games.  He comes back to compete in 4 events and qualifies in second in SuperPipe.  I think I’m going to have to change my top three picks (especially with Iouri Podladtchikov sidelined).

Snowmobile thoughts

  • It’s been a warm winter in Texas.  How the heck did the Moore brothers improve their skills?  Possible answers: vacation in the mountains, on ATVs, made the most of the few snow days we had (maybe Krum got more than the one day in Dallas).
  • Flying squirrel (freestyle snowmobiling) = holy man (FMX)
  • I will never call in sick again after seeing Justin Hoyer, who was coming down with a bad cold AND coming off two crashes, put together a silver medal-winning run.
  • Four is an unlucky number in Asian cultures.  It was pretty unlucky for Daniel Bodin because he kept missing the podium, but this year, four times is the charm.

Congratulations to Kaya Turski (Women’s Ski Slopestyle), Daniel Bodin (Freestyle Snowmobiling), and Sarah Burke (Women’s Ski SuperPipe) for their victories!

Jen’s Prediction Status: 1/3 – This is not counting Freestyle Snowmobiling. Ashleigh McIvor has pulled out so that prediction isn’t correct.
Quote of the Day: “She likes to get wax jobs.  I call that foreplay.” – Torstein Horgmo, on his new board “Nicole”
Trick of the Day: Whatever that crazy thing Joe Parsons pulled in Snowmobile Freestyle Snowmobile, where he turns around mid-backflip to land backwards on his sled.
Inspiration of the Day: The return of Kevin Pearce, who was in critical condition last year, was a very touching moment.  We’re glad to have him back and in good health and spirits. I might have shed a tear.

Question of the Day (for y’all to answer): What do you think of Shaun White’s ripper pants and leather jacket?

I think I will combine Day 2 with Day 3 since certain events will keep me away from my computer and the TV. So keep an eye out for that huge post on Sunday.

Listening to: “Jojyoushi” by L’Arc~en~Ciel