Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

I’m back! Just in time to begin a new season of winter action sports (I’m all signed up for Fantasy Freeride League, are you?). Before we begin with that, I have to share the post that never made it up prior to my hiatus. It’s a comprehensive recap of all four summer events.

The “global” (I put that in quotes because what happened to Asia?) X Games initiative was ambitious and a great way to reach out to the international community, but I think we can all agree that it was exhausting. Not to mention unfair to certain sports and parts of the world. Having just one summer and one winter event makes the X Games more special and easier to manage although I would like to see smaller events like the Asian X Games were previously. I could write essay on my thoughts, but instead, let’s focus on the sick action we saw in Foz do Iguaçu, Barcelona, Munich, and Los Angeles with my eXponential Awards.

Best Female Athlete – Vicki Golden (Moto X)
Vicki Golden is no stranger to breaking barriers. The first woman to qualify for an Arenacross race became the first female rider to compete in a FMX event, something I had hoped to see in my lifetime since I got into action sports. She snagged the bronze in Best Whip and then went on to grab her third gold in Women’s Moto-X Racing.
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From Trevor Brown, Jr. / ESPN

Best Male Athlete – Bob Burnquist (Skateboard)
At Foz, Bob Burnquist became the X Games athlete with the most medals, and he followed it up with two more Big Air golds for a record of 27 total. Although he didn’t get the grand slam, he still continued to compete with a broken nose.

Newcomer to Watch – Scott Speed (Rally)

How many people can say they won the first big race they entered? Scott Speed did just that at the RallyCross event in Foz. While he still has a learning curve, his Formula One and NASCAR experience make him a force to be reckoned with.

Most Dramatic Finals – BMX Freestyle Street in L.A.

There had been only one BMX Street champion in the X Games, and that was Garrett Reynolds. Everything changed in L.A. though when Chad Kerley got the day’s top score. It was close—Garrett actually match Chad’s 45—but it was time for a new king of street.

Best Trick – Zack Warden’s Iron Lotus to late tailwhip plus triple tailwhip (BMX)
Although I’ve already awarded the backflip bike flip, a.k.a. the Iron Lotus, best trick last year, Zach Warden deserves recognition for giving us a prime example of progression in the Big Air contest at Barcelona.  Just how many tricks can a guy cram into one jump and still have enough momentum to do a triple whip on the quarterpipe.

Picture Perfect Moment – Colton Satterfield and Jake Brown share the MegaRamp at Foz do Iguaçu (BMX and Skateboard)
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From Brett Wilhelm / ESPN
Skaters and BMXers have a reputation of not getting along, but this photo, in addition to being a stunning sunset shot, highlights the camaraderie that transcends sports and nationalities at the X Games.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Tony Hawk’s kids clean the vert ramp.
The heavy rains in Barcelona were a big downer, but at least Tony Hawk’s kids managed to have some fun sliding on the vert ramp to mop it up. I bet Tony wishes they showed the same enthusiasm for household chores.

Most Educational Moment – Mike Schultz’s prosthetic leg (Moto X)
This is not exactly part of the X Games, but we got to see science benefit action sports. Mike Schultz was recognized this summer by Popular Science for engineering his own prosthetic to fit the dynamic action sports lifestyle. In addition to helping him win the Invention Award this year, his Versa Foot played a key role in his Adaptive Moto X gold.

Greatest Comeback – Bucky Lasek (Skateboard)
To use his words, Bucky Lasek hasn’t really gone anywhere, but he’s been missing the top of the podium for nine years. That changed with Foz, then Barcelona, Munich, and finally L.A.—a grand slam in Skateboard Vert.

Most Inspirational – Nyjah Huston (Skateboard)
Most people know Nyjah Huston as the street phenom. X Games aired a feature that showed the behind-the-scenes struggles with his family and how he was able to overcome it. I definitely see him in a new light.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Kevin Robinson (BMX)
The BMX Freestyle Big Air finals in L.A. felt like the end of an era. Longtime advocate and champion of the event, Kevin Robinson, was retiring from competition. I remember the first time I saw him ride on TV fourteen years ago and then meeting him three years later. Since then, I’ve followed his career with my brother and even my mom. It’s been an amazing run, and I’m glad he is happy with the choice that he’s made. Kevin, you’ll always been my family’s favorite rider.
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From Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s been a great eleven years in L.A. So much history was made in the Staple Center, and so much heart was on display. However, I’m super stoked for Austin even if I happen to be out of state when the X Games are rolling out.

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Missed out on the X Games action, or are you just missing it? Well, here’s a nice highlight reel:
This reel sums up the theme of this year’s Summer X Games for me: a return to the past. Some familiar faces topped the podium while newcomers demonstrate a bright-eyed enthusiasm I had as a teen who had just discovered action sports. I made my return to the FMX forums and was inspired to start skateboarding again. Even the soundtrack was nostalgic with new songs by Linkin Park, a band I was completely obsessed with in high school (I still like them; I’m just less fangirly). Enough reflecting though, let’s get to my top moments of X Games L.A. 2012.

Best Female Athlete – Alexis Sablone (Skateboard)
It’s hard to believe that Alexis was nervous about the course. She hit some of the biggest obstacles and gaps, and her high first run score made all the competitors step up their game. Her gold, medal number four, reinforces the fact that she is one of the most consistent skaters in Women’s Street.

Best Male Athlete – Garrett Reynolds (BMX)

Garrett had some tough competition this year, but his ability to combine the stylish big tricks with more technical ones makes him the undefeated BMX Street champion. What’s more impressive is that he claims to not ever train. He just rides because he likes it (and isn’t that how it should be?)

Newcomer to Watch – Tom Schaar (Skateboard)

Tom was the only member of the unlicensed group (as in they can’t legally drive) to make both the Big Air and Vert finals. He can do 900s and 1080s, and while he lacks the amplitude or technical tricks down yet to truly be a threat veterans like Bob Burnquist and Bucky Lasek, they have already got their eyes on him.

Most Dramatic Finals – Step-Up (Moto-X)
As much as I enjoy Step-Up, it’s not the most imaginative disciplines of FMX. This year, however, gave us an epic battle of will power and technique for the world record. It was nerve-wracking and a bit painful to watch, but the beating Matt Buyten and Ronnie Renner took made the finale so worth while.

Best Trick – Zack Warden’s Backflip Bike Flip (BMX)
The backflip bike flip is one of those tricks that makes absolutely no sense until you see it happen (and even then it’s mind-boggling). It’s so unique, and the precision and body awareness needed to not end up crashing in a tangle of limbs and handlebars makes this one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a while.

Picture Perfect Moment – Taka Higashino’s rock solid flip (Moto-X)

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Photo by Michael Antonovich (Transworld Motocross)
This is my current desktop, and my mind continues to be blown by the image. It clearly captures what is so crazy about doing a rock solid flip.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Gary Young goes for the baby (BMX)
While others BMX Park riders were eyeing the gold, Gary was eyeing his phone. Two days before the contest, he actually rushed to San Diego after his wife was thought to have gone into labor. That wound up being a false alarm, but Gary admitted that he didn’t care about winning and was going to drop everything to be able to be with his family. Talk about devotion. “I do good here; I do bad here—either way I win a baby,” he told X Cast. Gary and his wife Sarah welcomed their baby girl Leena earlier today. Congratulations!

Most Educational Moment – Sport Science breaks down the physics of the Double Loop Dare

This presentation definitely made me appreciate the stunt a lot more, especially since the drivers made it look so easy. I’m glad they gave props to the engineers because without science, none of this would have been possible.

Greatest Comeback – Kevin Robinson (BMX)
Kevin has missed the last two Big Air finals, and in that time, he has endured five major dislocations and three surgeries. I was a bit worried that his shoulder would still cause him problems, especially after the hard slams he took this year. However, he forged ahead and wound up claiming bronze.

Most Inspirational – Kyle Loza (Moto-X)
Dealing with critics is never easy. Kyle has had many naysayers tell him that he doesn’t have what it takes to do the bike flip, and in the Big Air finals, he had to make the difficult decision of not taking a second run despite the backlash that would undoubtedly happen.  He handled all the booing and name-calling with grace, and that is why he’s one of the most inspirational athletes at this year’s X Games.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Carey Hart (Moto-X)

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Carey (right-side up) racing against Edgar Torrenteras.  Photo by Olivia Bush (X Games Tumblr).
While I’m not the first to give Carey a Lifetime Achievement Award, he truly deserves the recognition for all he has given FMX and the X Games.  In 2001, we saw one of the most horrific crashes at X; the next year, he reclaimed the backflip, now a staple in FMX. After a hiatus, he started racing SuperMoto and later Speed and Style. Although he didn’t make the finals this year, he had a good last X Games race.  We’re going to miss seeing you compete at X, Carey!

Before we completely wrap things up, I’d like to share an article that linked to this blog: “7 X-games rules to apply to your marriage”.  It gives you relationship advice with a FMX theme.  Maybe the newly engaged Taka Higashino should take some notes.

Four days of X Games flew by so fast, and the last day brought a lot of chaos. I’ll be recapping the best moments soon, but in the meantime, here’s the final set of observations and comments.

BMX thoughts

  • It’s interesting to note that while Skateboard Big Air had a bunch of very young skaters, BMX Big Air mostly consists of veterans (mostly of vert).
  • There’s still an age gap which, according to announcer Dennis McCoy, is delineated by the willingness to run down the MegaRamp.
  • Anthony Napolitan, Morgan Wade, and Alan Cooke are the only non-vert riders to have ever competed in Big Air.
  • It was nice to see Morgan, Kevin Robinson, and Chad Kagy back in action.
  • Only on the MegaRamp is Simon Tabron considered a “rookie”. He actually had to attach brakes to his bike for the event.
  • Zack Warden’s first backflip bike flip with a triple tailwhip (oh the alliteration!) came in second to Morgan’s no-handed flip with an invert. Why? Morgan got more amplitude.
  • I learned two new terms from announcer Jimmy Coleman: “boo birds” and “speed wobbling”.
  • Morgan is wearing the same outfit from when he ruptured his spleen exactly one year ago. He must really love the T-shirt because he had to sew it back together.
    xgames_big_air_13, Photo by Ryan Fudger.  Transworld Ride BMX Photo by Ryan Fudger (Transworld BMX)
  • Apparently they don’t remove your ruptured spleen in Brazil.
  • Kevin has dislocated his shoulder five times in the past two year: three at X Games 2010, one while giving a motivational speech, and one after he got into a car wreck. He also mentioned that it kept popping out after X before his surgery.
  • Zack did improve on his score by going over the 64-foot gap.
  • However, on his last run (the last run of the night), Steve McCann defended his gold with a very clean no-handed double front flip with a double tailwhip over the big gap.

Motocross thoughts

  • Endurocross is the most diverse event with 12 countries represented.
  • I loved how the Sport Science clip included some biology (my specialty) with the physics.  I can’t believe riders reach up to 95% of their maximum heart rate.
  • The course builders spent the last 18 hours adding the enduro obstacles. A new one for this year is the “matrix” which consists of logs placed apart at the exact width of the bike.
  • The women’s course is a little different, but they still have to contend with water, rocks, and firewood.
  • The X Games official who helped Tara Geiger out of the rock pit looked very pleased with himself.
  • Patience appears to be key, as Maria Forsberg passed Louise Forsley on the second to last lap. She wound up leading by 15 seconds.
    MariaFireWood, Photo by Brown Dog Wilson.  Viceversamx.com Photo by Brown Dog Wilson (viceversamx.com)
  • Last year’s gold medalists in the Men’s race, Taddy Blazusiak, was undefeated the rest of the 2011 season.
  • Jeff Aaron rode a two-wheel drive bike (they tried to explain how it worked, but I didn’t understand).
  • Taddy said the pool was the deepest he had ever ridden through and that the “swim” during qualifiers was “refreshing”.
  • Apparently there is an X Games researcher named DJ Smith who gives announcer Cameron Steele all the facts. Can be an X Games researcher?
  • Advice for aspiring enduro riders: never wait in line to get past obstacles.
  • Mike Brown got the holeshot in the finals and held the lead, even with a last lap crash and Cody Webb hot on his tail.

Rally thoughts

  • The RallyCross course originally had a metal ramp jump similar to the one at the Global RallyCross race in Texas, but that was replaced with a table top after two horrific crashes in practice. Only one them involved the ramp, and that was Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen’s wreck (which was featured on Yahoo!). The other crash involved Marcus Grönholm hitting a light pole.
  • Here’s some commentary and science on what having a larger, all-metal means and why it’s got some rally fans upset.
  • You do not want Brian Deegan on your tail. He was relentless in chasing down Sverre Isachsen in his heat even though he already had a qualifying spot.
  • Poor Travis Pastrana just can’t get a break in rally this year. He got T-boned at the first GRC race, and then he dislocated his shoulder in Texas. At X, all the cars chased him down until he was driven into a wall and struck by Andy Scott. The damages were irreparable, and unlike at other races, he wasn’t allowed to use teammate Bryce Menzies’ car.
  • Andy got DQ’ed from the heat, but the judges determined that he didn’t hit Travis intentionally so they let him race the LCQ.
  • Ten guys in the final is just asking for carnage.
  • The OMSE team (Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust, and David Binks) were strategizing so that one of them could win for Marcus and Topi.
  • The penalty for an early start is dropping back one car length. There were quite a few jumpy drivers.
  • Brian tried to argue with the X Games official about his early start, but camera replays don’t lie.
  • It gets up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit inside a car, and drivers experience 3Gs at the start (to compare, it’s about 7Gs on top the Hot Wheels loop or while somersaulting in fighter jet).
  • Even though Sébastien Loeb was called a “newcomer”, he’s an eight-time World Rally Champion.
  • Ken Block managed to hang onto second with a flat tire and Brian charging his way through the pack to third.

Skateboard thoughts

  • When I voted for Real Street Fan Favorite at the last minute (it was July 1 midnight central time), Collin Provost led against Manny Santiago by just 57%.
  • Nyjah Huston and Chaz Ortiz were both nursing injuries, but from a casual perspective, you couldn’t really tell by their skating. To me, Nyjah did look a bit off his game; Tony Hawk noted that he was favoring one knee.
  • Chaz is very deliberate in approaching rails. You can see him slow down.
  • Paul Rodriguez made switch tricks look easy.
  • There was only a point difference between the top three: Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, and Nyjah Huston.

Congratulations to the last batch of winners: Paul Rodriguez (Skateboard Street), Sébastien Loeb (RallyCross), Steve McCann (BMX Big Air), Nyjah Huston (Real Street), Collin Provost (Real Street Fan Favorite), Maria Forsberg (Women’s Enduro X), and Mike Brown (Men’s Enduro X).

Prediction Status: 6/15
Quote of the Day: “Missing the thingy” – Tony Hawk
Trick of the Day: Zack Warden’s Iron Lotus + triple tailwhip

Inspiration of the Day: Maria Forsberg – Electrician on the weekdays, endurocross champ on the weekends, this is one badass woman.
Question of the Day: Who did you vote for in the Real Street finals?

Saturday at the X Games was just crazy. There were so many events going on (half of which were competing with what was apparently the second longest Wimbledon match for airtime). Among them was the Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare. It was a short one-shot event, which almost seemed like a waste considering how much space the loop took up. However, the feat was impressive, and it’s now in the record books.

BMX thoughts

  • Park was like a trip down memory lane. Familiar names like Ryan Nyquist and Scotty Cranmer were in the finals, and I was watching alongside my brother (who has fallen out of the scene). Good times.
  • Patrick Casey did flair whip in such a small space. It was shocking.
  • Brett “Banana Sandwich” Banasiewicz (actually his nickname is “Mad Dog”) had some HUGE tricks, like a triple whip and a 900, but he didn’t even medal. That’s how stiff the competition is and how important picking the right lines is.
  • Scotty was a great example of just having it all: technical tricks, use of the entire course, and smooth riding. XG18 Day3-1, From X Games Tumblr Photo from official X Game Tumblr
  • I panicked for a minute when I saw the Vert results on Twitter because I thought it would be broadcast live on TV. Who knew that the X Games could have spoilers?
  • Dennis McCoy is the only BMXer among the four athletes who have competed in all 18 X Games.
  • Jamie Bestwick was the first rider to break 40 points in the finals, and there was no stopping him after that.
  • Steve McCann had great amplitude but took a hard crash in one of the early runs.
  • All the guys rode well, but Jamie just has much more variation. It also helped that he didn’t have set-up airs (though I noticed that many more riders are now packing in the tricks).
  • Vince Byron made tailwhips look easy. He also attempted a decade air.
  • Both Steve McCann and Simon Tabron opted out their last runs probably due to the pain they were feeling from the crashes. Best save your body when you know that unless you’re at 100%, you’re probably not going to beat Jamie.

Motocross thoughts

  • Ashley Fiolek was absent from Women’s Moto-X Racing due to concerns about concussion effects. She hit her seven times this past year, the latest being three weeks ago (where she didn’t even remember finishing).
  • Vicki Golden got the holeshot, and that was it. By the end of the race, she led by 7 seconds.
  • They should have Vicki in Best Whip next year.
    xgamesday3-3, Photo by Brown Dog Wilson.  From viceversamx.com Photo by Brown Dog Wilson (viceversamx.com)
  • The camera angle for Speed and Style sucked for showing tricks over the big jump.
  • Robbie Maddison had a bad crash over the whoops in practice. ESPN first reported that he broke his tibia and fibia, but apparently that was a prior injury that confused the hospital staff. He did suffer from a collapsed lung and lacerations on his leg.
  • Matt Buyten was apparently “pleasantly surprised” at not being sore from the previous night’s Step-Up marathon.
  • This was Carey Hart’s X Games swan song. He put up a really good fight against Edgar Torrenteras in the quarterfinals.
  • It looked really scary whenever riders were going bar-to-bar up the ramp, especially when they were both planning to flip. One slight bobble and it would be ugly.
  • ET didn’t have enough speeding going into a backflip and crashed hard. He was lucky to have gotten the bike all the way around, but it was a rough landing. He was carried out on the stretcher while throwing the horns.
  • The finals was between Nate Adams and Mike Mason. Both looked incredibly comfortable with course, and their jerseys were similar in color so “yellow” and “black” was a very good way to distinguish them from afar.
  • Mase’s arenacross background definitely helped him win. He was the smoothest on the whoops the entire night.
  • So many motocross injuries seem to have happened these past couple of days. Get well soon to all the riders!

Skateboard thoughts

  • Park started off slow, but everyone really brought out the big tricks in the finals.
  • It was cool seeing vets Andy MacDonald and Rune Glifberg in the finals. I tend to forget that they are park skaters too.
  • Kevin Kowalski saved himself from a fall (they can only have two before the run is over) with a nice revert.
  • Pedro Barros lost his hat doing a trick and then came back around to grab it in the middle of his run. Talk about cool under pressure.
  • It was a big battle for first between Pedro, Rune, and Ben Hatchell.
  • Ben put up a really good fight. His tech tricks got him the highest scoring run.
  • Three of the four X Games super vets (that’s what I’m calling the guys who have been in all 18 comps) were competing in Vert: Andy MacDonald, Bob Burnquist, and Rune Glifberg.
  • Rob Lorifice and Adam Taylor looked sunburned. Wonder if they forgot their sunscreen during Big Air.
  • Body varial = body doing a 540 + board doing a 360.
  • There appeared to be some strategic skating during the heats, as competitors refrained from throwing their biggest tricks (according to Tony Hawk, it might get scored lower later).
  • Skateboard Vert had the most pottymouths. The TV would go silent for a couple seconds around the times guys who bail from a trick. I finally put two-and-two together when Sandro Dias had an “oops” expression on his face after saying something.
  • Pierre-Luc Gagnon trains for skateboarding by boxing.
  • 12-year-old Tom Schaar brought back memories of a young Shaun White. Even though they were low, his 900s were so smooth. Can’t wait to see more from him.
  • Last year it was Shaun versus PLG. This year, it was Bucky Lasek versus PLG.
  • Apparently Andy barely makes 720s when he’s practicing with Tony, but he always stomps them in contests. That sounds like good luck or efficient skating.
  • Both Bucky and PLG scored a 91, but Bucky had to work to break the tie since PLG had the higher average of five runs (normally they average three).
    XG18 Day3-3, From X Games Tumblr Photo from official X Game Tumblr
  • Double grab are good in FMX due to difficulty. In skateboarding, it often means you’re desperate to not fall.
  • PLG fell on his last run so that gave Bucky a chance to take the gold away. It looked like he was about to with the way he barely stayed on the board (working some Bob Burnquist magic). It was close but not enough.

Congratulations to Scotty Cranmer (BMX Park), Ryan Decenzo (Game of SK8) Pedro Barros (Skateboard Park), Jamie Bestwick (BMX Vert), Vicki Golden (Women’s Moto-X Racing), Mike Mason (Moto-X Speed and Style), and Pierre-Luc Gagnon (Skateboard Vert) on their victories!

Prediction Status: 6/12
Quote of the Day: Sal Masekela – “Why do I keep saying 500?”
Tony Hawk – “Well, he didn’t make it all the way around so it’s a 500.”
Trick of the Day: Scotty Cranmer’s double tailwhip backflip
Inspiration of the Day: Jono Schwan – At 15, he already has his own charity, and he’s helping raise money for the people who lost their homes in the Colorado Springs fires.
Question of the Day: What is your favorite Carey Hart X Games moment?

I missed about half of Day 2 due to a late family dinner and then getting stuck in traffic. My dad’s iPad let me keep up-to-date with the results, but no ESPN app means no watching. Luckily some of the events got delayed/lasted longer than usual so I made it home in time for the end of Step-Up and Best Trick.

BMX thoughts

  • A Tumblr user challenged my prediction of Garrett Reynolds getting the five-peat in BMX Street. I was curious to see if Chad Kerley could beat Garrett.
  • The finals was really just Chad versus Garrett. Their highest scored were eight points greater than the rest.
  • However, the “battle for bronze” was pretty exciting too: lots of solid riding from everyone, notably Dakota Roche.
  • It’s hard to believe that Chad is a Summer X rookie.  He rode so smoothly.
    chadkerley, Photo by Christian Van Hanja / ESPN Images Photo by Christian Van Hanja/ESPN Images (X Games livestream)
  • Harder to believe is the fact that Garrett can get an equivalent score even with a fall (though his fall was at the last second so I wonder if the judges really counted that). His barspin 540 wallride was one of the sickest tricks of the day!

Motocross thoughts

  • Apparently Snoop Dogg Tweeted for people to vote for Twitch in Best Whip and called him “my nephew”.
  • Matt Buyten and Ronnie Renner made a joke out of the current record of 37 feet.
  • It was a duel between Step-Up styles: Ronnie’s whipped form versus Matt’s straight-on method.
  • The hard landings were making me cringe. Jeremy McGrath sounded pained when he talked about it, and Travis Pastrana apparently walked out of the announcers’ booth. Landing is a hazard.
  • Ronnie was obviously in pain, but he really wanted the gold. Sometimes it’s not about having fun.
  • The new record is 47 feet!
  • After the dramatic showdown in Step-Up, my heart continued to race for Best Trick. Sometimes I think that FMX will be the end of me.
  • Thomas Pages did a weird sideways body varial.  Travis’ mind was blown.
  • Taka Higashino was defying both physics and death with the rock solid backflip. He had to fight the centripetal force of a flip and the danger of missing a grab or hitting the front brake.
  • Double backflip is old and not technical, but its risk factor led to Cam Sinclair’s high score.
  • Kyle Loza’s BMX-inspired bike flip is apparently 8-9 years in the making. People were saying that he’s too small.
  • Jackson Strong did a shirtless backflip body varial double grab… a.k.a. the Jack.
    jacksonstrong, Photo from X Games Tumblr Photo from X Games Tumblr
  • Thomas repeated his varial on the larger gap but got a lower score.   I’m confused about that result.
  • To do a 720, you have to pull hard on the bars like you’re doing a double backflip, according to Travis. However, you can’t pull too hard.
  • Poor Clinton Moore crashed on the 720 and then got hit by a bike. Maybe X Games officials shouldn’t try to move riders’ bikes.
  • Taking your left hand off on the landing was apparently worth 0.33 points.
  • Kyle wanted to show that the bike flip is possible and prove the critics wrong, which makes his decision to not take a second run so much more difficult to watch. I’m really disappointed in the so-called fans who boo’ed him and called him names on-line. At the end of the day, we should be wanting our guys to be safe and sound.
  • I want to send my best wishes to Myles Richmond and Kyle, both of whom left the Staples Center in a stretcher.

Skateboard thoughts

  • Mad props to Alexis Sablone for juggling education with skating. I had such a hard time just keeping up as a spectator while in college, and she excels at both (being an archi is hard and she’s going to do grad work at MIT).
  • Rachel Reinhard had one of the sickest tricks: a double kickflip over the chain.
  • Alexis took a lot of risks to endure her lead, going over large gaps and trying a grind over the handrail.
  • Lacey Baker also tried to go big by attempt to jump two of the chains diagonally.
  • If anybody doubts the skills of women’s skateboarders, this final definitely would prove them wrong.

Congratulations to Alexis Sablone (Women’s Skateboard Street), Garrett Reynolds (BMX Street), Bob Burnquist (Skateboard Big Air), Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg (Moto-X Best Whip), Ronnie Renner (Moto-X Step-Up), and Jackson Strong (Moto-X Best Trick) on their victories!

Prediction Status: 2/6
Quote of the Day: “[Clinton Moore] is a lot smarter than me.” – Travis Pastrana
Trick of the Day:  Taka Higashino’s rock solid backflip to one-handed lander
Inspiration of the Day: All the FMX riders – so much courage and strength.
Question of the Day: What did you think of the judging in Moto-X Best Trick?

Originally I had planned to combine my Day 1 and 2 notes since there were only two events on Thursday and I had to miss half of yesterday’s action.  However, I had so much stuff written down that I decided to split them up again.  It’s a little surprising since I’ve also been Tweeting during the broadcast.  You can blame social media for keeping me away from making these posts, but on the bright side, I’ve made my return to the freestylemtx.com forum (it felt like an overdue homecoming).

Motocross thoughts

  • Since Freestyle was juxtaposed with Skateboard Big Air, I noted the difference in announcing styles. Tony and Sal are like the nice parents who give their kids a gold star for effort while Cameron and Tess are the more critical Asian parents.
  • Taka Higashino’s rock solid backflip, the first ever, was insane! He let go three times while upside down.
  • Todd Potter wins the marketing award for handing out fake mustaches.
  • Levi Sherwood not only had great extension but he held his tricks out for as long as possible.
  • Taka’s run was apparently written in Japanese so no one else could figure out what he did. I bet FMX trick names are written out in katakana.
  • Todd’s whip was huge… a glimpse at what he’d do for Best Whip?
  • Levi’s legs actually go over his head on the tsunami flip. It was like yoga on a dirt bike.
    XG18 Day1, From X Games facebook page.  By Olivia Bush
    Photo by Olivia Bush (
    X Games facebook page)
  • Adam Jones really got the short end of the stick. I kept hearing about how he was underscored, but his second run wasn’t even aired (it was the only run not aired).
  • The tie breaker between Nate Adams and Javier Villegas was confusing. The broadcast said Javier got the bronze, but they didn’t explain that the judges averaged the highest and lowest scores of their best run back in, instead of looking at the second run score. To make things worse, the site listed Nate as third, which made me think ESPN pulled a CNN. Everything finally got cleared up when the on-line report came out the next day.
  • This is the first year that an American rider is not on the podium. Taka is the first Asian athlete to have won a Summer X event since Takeshi Yasutoko took the gold in Aggressive In-line Vert in 2004, the last year they would hold that event.

Skateboard thoughts

  • It’s interesting to see how the face of skateboarding has changed. Kids can now train at Woodward and specialize in Big Air. Thankfully, the parents don’t seem to be the ones pushing the kids so no Skate Moms reality show yet.
  • Jagger Eaton is now the youngest X Games competitor ever. He beat Nyjah Huston by a few months.
  • Mitchie landed the first 900 in a Big Air contest on his victory lap during qualifiers. Looks like the nerves are gone.
  • Then Tom Schaars threw down two 9s like it’s no big deal… yet he only got second because he hit the smaller gap.
  • I had mixed feelings about Bob automatically getting to the finals.  Not that he didn’t deserve it given the pounding he received in practice, but I didn’t realize that was even allowed.
  • It looked like the judges want more technical tricks and amplitude (makes sense considering the name is Big Air).

Congratulations to Taka Higashino (Moto-X Freestyle) for being our first gold medalist!

Prediction Status: 0/1
Quote of the Day: “It’s really old school versus elementary school in Big Air.” – Sal Masakela
Trick of the Day: Mitchie Brusco’s 900
Inspiration of the Day: Taka Higashino
Question of the Day: Are you rooting for the old school skaters or the new kids?

Summer X Games 18 comes a month earlier this year, and now it’s going by a different name to reflect the global expansion of the Games.  L.A. is still the place to be for summer action sports athletes though.  This year promises to bring lots of repeat medal attempts, new challengers (and boy, are they young), never-before-seen tricks, and dramatic moments guaranteed to make a highlight reel.  I’ve got my pen and paper ready, and this year I’m hoping to do better on my predictions

BMX Street – Garrett Reynolds
BMX Park – Daniel Dhers
BMX Vert – Jamie Bestwick
BMX Big Air – Chad Kagy
Moto X Freestyle – Levi Sherwood
Moto X Step-Up – Matt Buyten
Moto X Best Trick – Clinton Moore
Moto X Racing Women’s – Vicki Golden
Moto X Speed and Style – Nate Adams
RallyCross – Brian Deegan
Skateboard Street Women’s – Alexis Sablone
Skateboard Big Air – Mitchie Brusco
Skateboard Park – Pedro Barros
Skateboard Vert – Pierre Luc-Gagnon
Skateboard Street Men’s – Chaz Ortiz

While you’re waiting for Summer X to officially begin, go vote for ESPY’s Best Female and Male Action Sports Athletes.

Yes, it’s been a month since the Summer X Games, but I was trying to figure out how to make my “awards” for the best moments of the X Games more unique to the nerdy nature of this blog and more comprehensive.  I came up with a new name too!

Before I start handing out eXponential Awards, I’d like to congratulate X Games photographer Olivia Bush for her post, “Practice Makes Awesome“, being Freshly Pressed a couple weeks ago.  There are some sweet shots of various events so definitely check out her blog.

Now let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at my favorites of Summer X 17.

Best Female Athlete – Maria Forsberg (Moto-X)
The female endurocross racers had to ride the same course as the men, and the course didn’t care about your gender or riding background.  Everybody was taking spills.  Nevertheless, Maria held the lead for a good portion of the final.

Best Male Athlete – Daniel Dhers (BMX)
Opting out of a run when all the riders were giving it their all was a ballsy move.  We were sure that was going to hurt Daniel, but because he was well-rested, he was able to ride consistently and take the gold back.  Who needs a fourth run when you’ve got three excellent ones?

Newcomer to Watch – Enduro-X
“But Jen, that’s not an athlete or even a new sport.” That’s what you’re thinking, right? However, during both the men’s and women’s finals, I was wondering where this event has been in the history of X Games. It’s physically demanding, unpredictable, chaotic, and really fun to watch—perfect for the X Games.

Most Dramatic Finals – Skateboard Vert
To see Shaun White and Pierre-Luc Gagnon battle it out for gold was incredible, yet I never got the feeling that this was an epic showdown. They just looked like they were trying to outskate themselves, and that’s what made it exciting. Also, I believe Shaun got the only standing ovation of the night.

Best Trick – Jackson Strong’s Front Flip (Moto-X)
It seemed like only yesterday, the double back flip was unattainable. You’re fighting so many forces when you’re flipping your bike forward. When Jackson landed the front flip, it was pretty much a battle for silver from then on.

Picture Perfect Moment – Jamie Bestwick in BMX Vert
xgames17-bestwick
Photo by Olivia Bush, from X Games facebook page
The contrast of the photo makes Jamie practically glow. The shot is so focused on the rider and his bike that it’s almost as if Jamie is riding on his own.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Mitchie Brusco’s 900 (Skateboard Big Air)
After all these years, the 900 is still the Holy Grail of skateboarding, and this kid, who wasn’t even alive during the first X Games, pulls one in competition. Regardless of how he did in the finals, Mitchie became an overnight sensation and the future of skateboarding.

Most Educational Moment – Sport Science presentation on Skateboard Big Air

Big Air consists of a lot of bailed attempts and falls, which can make people impatient. However, when you know exactly how difficult it is to stay on your board (or bike) and how much it hurts to fall, you gain a lot more respect for all the athletes. Also, this was a good review of high school physics.

Greatest Comeback – Travis Pastrana (Moto-X/Rally)
Instead of handing out an award for crashing hard (which I’m sure the athletes aren’t proud of), I decided to give one out for the ability to bounce back. Technically Travis couldn’t get back on his feet after his bad crash in Moto-X Best Trick, but he deserves props for being dedicated enough to go out and race rallycross with multiple broken bones (and almost medaling).

Most Inspirational – Team Pastrana (Rally)
I know I already gave Travis an award, but his team deserves as much recognition for toiling overnight to install hand controls in his car, which he then learned in the course of a day. Hard work, determination, and a little bit of insanity is a winning combo. Even if they didn’t medal, Team Pastrana probably got the most coverage ever.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Jamie Bestwick (BMX)
Since I got into extreme sports, I’ve been following Jamie’s career. He started to make a name for himself after the ’99 Gravity Games, and I remember the announcers talking about how he left everything behind in England to train for BMX. For the next 10 years, he became one of the dominant vert riders, only missing the top of the podium 2 of the years. Although this year’s comp wasn’t a cakewalk, he took gold again and became one of the few athletes to five-peat. At 40 years old, he still shows no sign of slowing down.

It is with much sadness that I approach the final day of the X Games. However, my eyes and rear end will be happy to not be sitting in my computer chair and staring at my laptop screen for hours (I had to miss most of the Game of SK8 because I was getting a headache). The X Games always make me itch to get out of the house (me get out? ha!) and do stuff. It doesn’t have to be action sports-related, but I want to be outside doing something that gets my heart rate up. First though, I have to get through my final set of notes.

BMX thoughts

  • BMX Freestyle Street is a little different in that the runs of 45 seconds, instead of 30, and that the riders are allowed 2 falls.
  • Brian Kachinsky built a street course inside an abandoned bakery. How cool is that?
  • Apparently the normal way to do a truckdriver (360 barspin) is to spin the handlebars in the opposite direction you’re rotating.
  • Dakota Roche is one tough dude, coming back with great runs after his chest slammed into the ledge.
  • The announcers got their facts mixed up. Both Jamie Bestwick and Garrett Reynolds scored a 47 (highest given in a BMX event this X Games) in their respective events.
  • They also kept referring to Garrett as a machine. Then again, one does question his mortality since he has won every BMX Street event in the X Games.
  • LOL moment: Dennis McCoy was trying to talk baseball, and Jimmy Coleman got him back on track.
  • Poor Dennis Enarson is going to be called the “bridesmaid” since he came so close to getting the gold again.
  • Garrett’s key to success: have fun. I’m sure unique, precise combos help too.

Moto-X thoughts

  • Endurocross, or as they call it “Enduro-X”, is pure chaos! It’s like bringing the great outdoors into a Supercross track: there’s rocks, logs, water, and blocks of wood.
  • I’m so used to smooth riding that it’s weird seeing riders stumble, put their foot down, and fly off their bikes.
  • Jeremy McGrath said that when he tried enduro, he barely finished.
  • There are several familiar names: Kenny Bartram (FMXer), Ryan Hughes (MX racer-turned-trainer), Destry Abbott (desert racer), Mike Brown (MX racer), Geoff Aaron (trials rider), and Tara Geigher (MX racer).
  • Everybody kept going on about the Pastranathon, but Destry and Maria Forsberg have their own crazy schedules. Destry had to drive back to Arizona and then fly out to Finland the next day for another enduro event. Maria didn’t have time to celebrate her gold, as she had work on Monday at 6 A.M.
  • Elizabeth Bash is one tough racer. She crashed and slid off the hill, and it looked like she hurt her arm. However, she got back on her bike and finished in 4th.
  • A trials background gives you more balance and control while motocross experience gives you speed and the ability to jump over obstacles like the water.
  • Even if you miss the water, you still have to deal with water other riders tracked over the rocks.
  • Ironically, a log rolled out in the beginning of the men’s final yet it was the first time the wasn’t a first turn pile-up.
  • Geoff and Mike gave up the lead with just one error, which shows how unpredictable trials can be.
  • Nevertheless, in a sport that doesn’t really have favorites, Taddy Blazuskiak shows why he was the man to watch. He came from behind to lead the second half and win.

Rally thoughts

  • There seem to be more wreckage with RallyCross due to more cars next to each other.
  • Rally drivers have varied daytime/former/side occupations: Robbie Maddison, Brian Deegan, and Travis Pastrana – FMXers; Joseph Burke and Dylan Van Way – college students; Rhys Millen and Tanner Foust – stunt drivers (The Dukes of Hazzard and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift); Dave Mirra – BMXer; Stephan Verdier – skicross racer; and Ken Block – co-founder/CBO of DC Shoes.
  • Travis is unbelievable. Even with an injured leg and hand, he still led one of his heats. Did I mention that he can’t take painkillers?
  • Joseph and Dylan’s college rivalry played out in the last chance qualifier. Joseph goes to Auburn, and Dylan attends LSU.
  • Ken’s weekend was described as “grotty”. That’s Britspeak for “wretchedly shabby” or “of poor quality”, according to Merriam-Webster.
  • Again, Liam Doran posted the fastest time in qualifiers.
  • Dave Higgins is good at coming from behind.
  • 8 cars in the final = insanity. Did any car escape unscathed?
  • This race was total Mulisha domination.  (Photo from Racer, by Richard S. James) Brian had about a 6.3 second lead. I’ve never seen him more stoked at a victory before; he was practically dancing on his car.Photobucket
  • The race was also a Ford podium sweep.
  • Travis came so close to medaling. He was 30 seconds behind Marcus Gronholm before he hit the wall.
  • I loved the co-driver cam because it showed each driver’s reactions to crashes and victories.

Congratulations to our final group of winners: Julian Christianson (Hometown Heroes Amateur Skateboard Street), Brian Deegan (RallyCross), Garrett Reynolds (BMX Freestyle Street), Ryan Decenzo (Game of SK8), Maria Forsberg (Enduro X Women’s), and Taddy Blazuskiak (Enduro X Men’s). Special recognition goes to Garrett for his 4-peat and for being the undefeated BMX Street champ. It’s been a great X Games!

Prediction Status: 5/14 (I got 3/4 for BMX.)
Quote of the Day: “Pastranathon to Pastrana-gone to Pastrana racing.” – Rally announcer on Travis’ X Games weekend
Trick of the Day: Garrett’s bar-catch-bar 450 (Now there’s a number you don’t see every day; I had to replay that a couple times to make sure I heard right.)
Inspiration of the Day: Travis’ Subaru team – Overnight they installed hand controls so that Travis didn’t have to miss out on all the Pastranathon events after Best Trick, which would’ve bummed him out. They helped him into his car, taped his leg in there, and fixed up the bumps from test drivers. Talk about a great team.

Nearly a full day of watching the X Games has resulted in three pages of notes, and I thought I was being conservative with my note-taking.   It was cool that ABC is broadcasting the X Games again, but of course, a different event was being aired on on-line.  Really disliking this simulcast deal.

BMX thoughts

  • Guys came out swinging in BMX Freestyle Park with huge tricks and crazy transitions. Ex. Gary Young’s feeble to 270 attempt (he came so close to making it).
  • Using the full time of the run is important. Dennis Enarson was ahead because he had the speed and energy to keep going.
  • Kevin Robinson noted that the jam format is kind of tricky because when you have guys pulling out, like with vert the other night, there’s less time for you to recover and plan.
  • Everybody wondered why Daniel Dhers would skip a run when Dennis was ahead, but the conservation of energy worked in his favor.
  • This was the first time I think I’ve seen them go to a tie breaker in which the judges had to look at 3rd run scores.


Moto-X thoughts

  • Ramp jump is an interesting addition to the race track, seems like a freestyle touch. I wonder what the racers think.
  • Crashes put an end to the Ashley Fiolek-Jessica Patterson showdown.
  • Dear announcers, Sayaka Kaneshiro’s name is pronounced “Kah-nay-she-ro”, not “Kyan-na-shee-ro”.
  • The ladies were pulling some nice whips at the end.
  • The whoops were a big challenge for in both Women’s Moto-X and Speed and Style.
  • Speed and Style was like a trip down memory lanes. The competitors were the big guns from back in the day (when I really kept up with FMX). To put things into perspective, Todd Potter is the youngest rider at 26.
  • Todd also wins the Iron Man award for competing in 5 different X Games events (that’s more than the “Pastranathon”).
  • Carey Hart gets the Best Sportsmanship award. When Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg went down, he quit racing to check up on him. Granted, he was already qualified at that point, but he was helping out the medics.
  • Twitch broke his left tibia and right heel on that nasty fall.
  • I feel like I jinxed by Ashley and Twitch.
  • A lot of calculation has to go into Speed and Style: on one hand, you have to slow down to hit the jumps to flip, but on the other hand, you’re in a race.
  • The finals was Nate Adams vs. Mike Mason: 4-stroke vs. 2-stroke, underflip vs. 360 flip, style vs. speed. In the end, style won out since Nate was upside down more. However, Mace had a beautiful rock solid, which in my eyes, is an equally scary trick.
  • This year’s Speed and Style was less ridiculous but just as fun to watch. Nate is one happy FMX this weekend.

Rally thoughts

  • Travis Pastrana plans on racing on Sunday?! WTF, he can barely walk and get in the car! They’ve even had to tape his foot down.
  • Rally Car Racing is auto racing for people with A.D.D. It’s only two laps and you’ve got different terrain and tight corners so the viewers never get bored.
  • Brian Deegan’s car has jaws, LOL.  So typical Mulisha style.
  • “[Racing through downtown L.A.] legally is pretty incredible.” It sounds like Tanner Foust has taken Fast and the Furious off the movie set.
  • Lessons in not giving up: David Higgins winning his heat with a flat tire and Dave Mirra pushing all the way through until the end.
  • When you take the Joker lap is important because it will give you an extra edge.
  • The Tanner Foust-Liam Doran rivalry reminds me of the Travis Pastrana-Brian Deegan good vs. evil FMX battle.
  • Liam posted the fastest times in the quarterfinals and semis.
  • In stead of a good vs. evil battle, we had experience (Marcus Gronholm) vs. youth (Liam). One is very calculating and precise; the other is fast and wild.  Maybe I should take a cue from Liam and drive more aggressively (I’m an annoyingly slow driver).

Skateboarding thoughts

  • I was going to put Njyah Houston down as my prediction for the winner of Skateboard Street, but I was basing a lot of that from hype from previous years. I was also going to make Shaun White my prediction, but then I changed it.
  • Bob Burnquist is extremely beat up from past injuries and Big Air, yet he still put together an awesome run during qualifiers. He said sleeping in helped.
  • I loved the clip of Tony Hawk and Andy MacDonald doing doubles for fun. They’re the only six-peaters in X Games history (I think everybody just gave up on doubles because they kept winning).
  • The judges seem to like giving a score of 82.66.
  • “Someone had to get old” – Tony Hawk on why he doesn’t have 5 X Games gold medals like Pierre-Luc Gagnon
  • Shaun White set the bar in the finals by being the first to have a clean run.
  • Shaun’s airs are higher than most skaters. A snowboarding influence?
  • Tony is calling out guys for their sloppiness.
  • PLG got a 91.66 even with a fall at the end.
  • The veterans of vert skated more consistently… probably because they could keep their cool under pressure.
  • Today, we saw a lot of elated gold medalists. (The reactions were bigger than what I usually see.)

Congratulations to Day 3’s victors: Daniel Dhers (BMX Freestyle Park), Liam Doran (Rally Car Racing), Nyjah Houston (Skateboard Street Men’s), Vicki Golden (Moto-X Racing Women’s), Shaun White (Skateboard Vert), and Nate Adams (Moto-X Speed and Style).  A big get well soon to Twitch, and good luck to Travis.

Prediction Status: 3/12
Quote of the Day: “It’s kind of cool feeling the bones move in my food.” – Travis Pastrana
Trick of the Day: Shaun White’s heelflip body varial frontside 540… actually his entire final run was amazing.

Inspiration of the Day: Women’s Moto-X Competitors – They’re strong, tough, and daring. Ashley Fiolek overcame deafness to become a 2-time X Games champ while Jessica Patterson has dealt with her share of nasty injuries in winning multiple national titles. Then there’s this year’s gold medalist, Vicki Golden, who became the first woman to qualify for a pro AMA Arenacross main event.
Question of the Day: Skateboard Street or Rally Car Racing – which did you watch (or would you watch)?