Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Burke’

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

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

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

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

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

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

The X Games were over too quickly. My mind could barely process the amazing feats that happened in the course of four days. I was sad to not see Snocross on the schedule, but I was stoked that ABC picked up a portion of the broadcast (it’s tough to watch everything on a laptop screen). Anyway, here are my awards for stand-out performances and memorable moments. Everyone did so well that I struggled to narrow down my candidates for the best athlete categories.

Best Female Athlete – Kelly Clark (Snowboard)
Kelly Clark’s comp history is ridiculous, and now she has added a fourth Winter X gold and a thirteenth consecutive win. She also throws down the 1080 like it’s not big deal (when she’s the only woman doing them).

Best Male Athlete – Mark McMorris (Snowboard)
Although Mark McMorris’ double gold and triple cork was overshadowed by Shaun White’s perfect score, he established himself as one of the best slopestyle riders… in his second Winter X Games. Something else worth noting: Shaun was the last person to win two Winter X Games events in the same year (2009).

Newcomer to Watch – Nick Goepper (Ski)
Last year, Torin Yater-Wallace came out of nowhere to challenge the top competitors in Ski SuperPipe. Now it was Slopestyle’s turn to introduce a mega-talented rookie. Seventeen-year-old Nick Goepper unexpectedly took the top spot in qualifiers and held onto it in the finals until Tom Wallisch’s second run.

Most Dramatic Finals – Snowboard Big Air
Also known as the “Triple Party!!!” The question of who will attempt the triple cork first was answered by the first person to ever do one, Torstein Horgmo. Then Mark McMorris and Sebstain Toutant stepped up to the plate, and with each attempt, the riders got closer and closer to landing the elusive trick. Finally, as the clock wound down, Mark landed the first triple cork 1440 in competition, and on his last run, Torstein improved upon it and scored a perfect 50. Progression happened before our eyes.

Best Trick – front flip (Snowmobile)
Heath Frisby made the front flip look so easy that I had to take a second to think about what happened: a man made a 500-pound machine somersault forwards off a ramp. This kind of stuff only ought to happen in comic books, yet Heath proved that it was possible in real life.

Picture Perfect Moment – Dominique Maltais in Snowboarder X
WXG16-Dominique, Photo from official X Games facebook page
Photo from X Games facebook page
This shot reminds me of the phrase from ABC sports, “the thrill of victory”. Dominique’s silhouette is beautiful against the blue sky, and the shot embodies the moment of glory.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Sarah Burke vigil
Although the vigil was a moment of sadness, it was also a moment of great beauty. It reminded us that that the X Games are not about who has the most gold medals or whether snowboarding or skiing is cooler; it’s about community and living life to the fullest.
WXG16-Burke Memorial, By AAron Ontiveroz of the Denver Post
Louie Vito hugs Sarah’s mother Jan Phelan. Photo by AAron Ontiveroz (The Denver Post)

Most Educational Moment – Keir Dillon explains double cork variations (Snowboard Big Air)
I’ve been told that snowboarding “looks like a bunch of spins”, and that’s not far from the truth. What determines the crème de la crème are the little details that go with the spins. Double corks are a big deal so I appreciate the fact that Keir Dillon mentioned frontsides and Cabs were more difficult than backsides. It’s nice to know what the judges are looking for.

Greatest Comeback – Shaun White (Snowboard)
After seeing Shaun’s SuperPipe runs, I have a hard time believing that he had a sprained ankle. To go from having to pull out of Slopestyle to getting a perfect score in a couple days must be the greatest comeback ever.

Most Inspirational – Sarah Burke (Ski)
The entire 4 days of competition was held in Sarah’s honor, as the Winter X Games would not be what it is today without her contributions. Several gold medalists dedicated their wins to her, and in the Women’s Ski SuperPipe, we saw the legacy she left behind. Though saddened by her untimely death, many competitors remembered her love of life and celebrated it through their sports.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Casey Puckett (Skier X)
This was Casey Puckett’s last professional race, and after ten X Games and five Olympics, it would be be an understatement to say that he has had an impressive 22-year career. After retiring from alpine skiing, he began a skicross career. He’s one of four individuals to have two golds in Men’s Skier X, and he finished fifth this year after only a “handful” of days skiing. While youth may reign at Winter X , we must never underestimate the power of the veterans or forget their achievements. Casey, it’s been a pleasure watching you race all these years.

If you missed any of this year’s big moments, you can catch them all in this highlight reel:

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

Ski thoughts

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

Snowboard thoughts

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

Snowmobile thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ski thoughts

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

Snowmobile thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest in peace, Sarah.

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