Posts Tagged ‘rally’

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

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We’ve reached the end. . . reluctantly. I have some great memories of being at the X Games, and I got to re-live some of it by watching all the replays.  In case you missed any of my recaps, here are the links: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Also, if you want to see more photos, mosey on over to my Flickr.

Best Female Athlete – Alexis Sablone (Skateboard)
Nobody was more on point in the Women’s Skateboard Street contest than Alexis Sablone. She took risks and it paid off with her solid skating.

Best Male Athlete – Daniel Sandoval (BMX)
What a weekend it was for Daniel Sandoval. First he blasted through the Park course to win gold, and then he came in Dirt as an alternate, overcoming nerves to lead the pack for a good portion of the finals.

Newcomer to Watch – Mykel Larrin (BMX)
XG2015 BMX Vert05
Another BMXer who had a great time was Mykel Larrin. After a good performance in Vert, he came into Big Air as an alternate and walked away with silver, and this was his second X Games.

Most Dramatic Finals – tie between RallyCar Racing and Stadium Super Trucks
I couldn’t decide between all the events, but eventually I narrowed it down to one that was fantastic in person (despite the elements) and one that made me excited at home.  There’s the joke that “with age comes the cage”, but both Rally and Stadium Super Trucks have produced more carnage than any race I’ve seen.

Best Trick – Thomas Pages’ Bike Flip (Moto X)
Although this was another tough category, I had to give it Thomas Pages. He shouldn’t be doing that kind of stuff on a dirt bike, and yet he rode away in this debut event.

Picture Perfect Moment – Shaded view of BMX Vert  photo josh20duplechian_zpswjs2risw.jpg
By Joshua Duplechian/ESPN. From xgames.espn.go.com
I thought it would be unfair to select one of my photos so I picked my favorite from another photographer. I’m still a little biased since this was my parasol. Nevertheless, it was quite an impressive shot to get from the middle of a crowd, and he was nice to not disturb me (red hat) and my parents (camo hat and tan hat).

My favorite from my own is the one of Bob Burnquist doing his one-footed switch ollie over the MegaRamp gap. You can see clearly the commitment, as well as the difficulty.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Travis Pastrana rides a mechanical bull XG2015 09
Getting to see Travis Pastrana take on the mechanical bull made standing in the sun totally worth it. He did it twice too since he didn’t want to be shown up by a couple of little kids.

Most Educational Moment – Burt Jenner teaches us about acceptance and pronouns
I was irked by the fact that X Games asked Burt Jenner about Caitlyn in the middle of the Stadium Super Trucks; that was probably the last thing on his mind. However, Burt demonstrated a lot of grace and showed that it’s okay to mess up pronouns as long as you apologize and try your best. I think the X Games commentators could have learned a lot from this instance.

Greatest Comeback – Maria Forsberg (Moto X)
Having a baby is a tough job. That’s not something I would have realized until I saw several of my peers juggle pregnancy and raising a kid with their daily lives. Therefore, I have to give Maria Forsberg props for coming out of retirement and then placing 5th in Women’s Enduro X final.

Most Inspirational – Colton Satterfield lands the double flair and gives a moving speech in BMX Big Air
Watching Colton make history and land the double flair on his final attempt, the last run of the night, was such a magical moment. Then he took it a step further and talked about how last year’s gold made him realize that he had the power to inspire others, and that’s what he came out to do this year. His conversation with Jack Mitrani on X Games Extra was making me tear up because it exemplified what drew me into action sports.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Bob Burnquist (Skateboard) XG2015 Big Air Doubles04
How have I gone so long without giving the winningest X Games athlete this award? I guess it’s because Bob Burnquist is still going strong. He added too Big Air gold medals to his collection while dealing with a broken arm. Nothing has held him down and nothing can, and more than anyone, he truly deserves his honor.

Congratulations again to all the winners and really props to all the athletes! I have a new-found appreciation for how hard they work. Get well soon to everyone who got banged up. Thanks to everyone who signed autographs and stopped for photos; y’all truly made the experience even more special. That’s all for now. See you in Aspen (virtually— not sure I can brave the cold just yet… maybe one day).

XG2015 05

I was probably the only person not stoked about Metallica playing Saturday night. It’s not that I don’t like them, but they should not be your sole reason for going to the X Games. Although I have no problem with casual action sports fans or non-fans coming into the scene with an open mind, I do take issue with people talking loudly in the middle of an event or taking the good seats because James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett are playing the national anthem, only to leave before we even get to the finals. Plus there were so many people smoking in areas where it was not allowed. Although the rude individuals who didn’t care about rules or action sports made me grumpy, I still had a great full day of X Games.

RallyCar Racing

  • So much dust! VIP probably got it the worst because they were right at the first turn. The visibility was so bad that drivers were hitting each other and even missing the jump.
    XG2015 RallyCar Racing02
  • I almost want to agree with my mom about how watching this on TV would be better because you’re not choking on dirt and can see the carnage up close. However, it’s not as exciting. Also I never fully understood the joker until I saw how it affect all the different positions. TV focuses on a few cars and areas so you don’t get the big picture of the strategy that goes into rally.
  • Ken Block and Travis Pastrana had really bad luck. So did Patrick Sandell. I felt for him because he fixed whatever was leaking in his car, but they wouldn’t let him back on the track due to broadcast time limits. I thought that was a pretty lame reason.
  • Scott Speed got reckless at the end of the final, but he was gonna finish first so we don’t need a bumper anymore, right?

(more…)

I debated about making predictions since I wouldn’t necessarily call these educated guesses (it’s always harder for me to keep up with summer events due to schedule conflicts).  Also because I’m going to be at the X Games, I anticipate changes to my posts wrapping up the event.  Nevertheless picking winners is always fun, and I do have previous years to go on so here’s what I’ve got:

BMX Dirt – Kyle Baldock
BMX Park – Daniel Dhers
BMX Vert – Jamie Bestwick
BMX Big Air – Morgan Wade
Moto X Step-Up – Ronnie Renner
Moto X QuarterPipe – Thomas Pages
Moto X Speed and Style – Mike Mason
Rally Car Racing – Scott Speed
Skateboard Street Women’s – Alana Smith
Skateboard Street Men’s – Nyjah Huston
Skateboard Big Air – Edgard Pereira
Skateboard Park – Pedro Barros
Skateboard Vert – Pierre Luc-Gagnon

In an unfortunate turn of events, I wound up being out of the state just as the X Games came to Austin.  Despite catching bits and pieces of the live footage and keeping up with results on-line, I had to mainly watch the replays.   Not that it kept me from handing out my awards to the best of the best.  I’ve already made up my mind to go next year, and I’m already looking forward to it.

Best Female Athlete – Emma Gilmour (Rally)

Given how many sexist female driver comments I’ve heard from my own friends and family, I can only imagine how much adversity Emma Gilmour has faced.  The RallyCross community seems to really support her though, and she drove well, making it to the semis and unlike many of the guys, she didn’t crash once.

Best Male Athlete – Chase Hawk (BMX)
Even though I have some strong criticisms about BMX Park (mainly WTF judges?!), Chase still rode really well.  He was super smooth and remained cool under the eyes of his hometown watching.  You did Austinno, Texas proud!

Newcomers to Watch – Jimmy Wilkins and Alana Smith (Skateboarding)
I couldn’t pick between the two so we have a tie.  I missed Alana’s record-breaking Street debut in Barcelona, but she’s still one of the young’uns and definitely has the star power to be the female equivalent of Ryan Sheckler or Nyjah Huston.  As for Jimmy, the youngest Skateboard Vert winner, he killed it!  There has been much doubt over the new generation of skaters, but Jimmy is proving that they have the versatility and amplitude to rise to the top.

Most Dramatic Finals – Skateboard Big Air
With everyone taking an all-or-nothing approach, it was an exciting competition. Edgard Pereira unleashed a never-before-seen trick, and a point determined the difference between bronze and silver, silver and gold. In a very touching conclusion, the youngester Tom Schaar gets the gold handed to him by his friend from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
 photo EI_259752_060614_Big-Air-Final_003_zps8b1486a4.jpg
Cameron Copeland and Tom Schaar. From mystatesman.com

Best Trick – Kyle Baldock’s front flip (BMX)
The highlight of Kyle’s winning run in BMX Dirt was the beautiful front flip. Most guys tuck before they launch themselves off the ramp, but he stretches out, which makes him look like he’s going in slow-mo.

Picture Perfect Moment – Blue Hour BMX vert by the Capitol
XGAustin14-2 photo XGamesAustin8KgZiWq1o16l_zpsd43dc29c.jpg
By Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America (from Zimbio)
The Blue Hour is a term in photography for the brief time in the evening when the sky is this vibrant blue. Simon Tabron’s white tires provide a striking contrast while the State Capitol provides a dramatic backdrop.

Best Moment Outside Competition – Female riders check out the street course (BMX)
With a disappointing lack of women in the summer events, X Games made a huge step forward by inviting Angie Mariano, Perris Benegas, and Nina Buitrago to ride the BMX Street course. Ride BMX got a video of them practicing with the guys, and hopefully this means we’ll see a women’s division in the future.

Most Educational Moment – Sport Science breaks down Jamie Bestwick’s front flip flair

The front flip flair seems inhuman, but with physics, Sport Science proves that it is feasible. I’m glad there is some method to the madness.

Greatest Comeback – Taddy Blazusiak (Moto X)
Several times during the Men’s Enduro X final, the identity of the winner seemed to be uncertain. Taddy recovered from his bobbles though and held off many challengers, proving why he’s the dominant force in the sport.

Most Inspirational – Colton Satterfield rallies for Big Air and wins (BMX)
The wind was so strong that Freestyle Moto X was canceled. The same could have happened for BMX Big Air if Colton had not taken the initiative to get his fellow riders to do it for the crowd. If battling Mother Nature wasn’t enough, he unleashes a sick no-handed corked 720 barspin to triple tailwhip. Definitely the night’s hero.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Ronnie Renner (Moto X)
 photo Renner-Step-Up-X-Games_zps9463cef4.jpg
By Drew Ruiz/KTM (motorcycle-usa.com)
Ronnie Renner has ten medals in Step-Up, five being gold. He’s also a world-record holder and one of the veterans of FMX. At Austin, he showed no signs of slowing down by easily grabbing gold #5 (check out the height from his GoPro), and we got to see some of those signature dance moves that made him one to watch over ten years ago.

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.
 photo xg13-1_zps8e304e32.jpg
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)
 photo xg13-2_zps6f07064a.jpg
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.
 photo xg13-3_zpsbbc44c9d.jpg
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.

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?

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.