Posts Tagged ‘Simon Dumont’

X Games Aspen 2015 has been quite the game changerfor both action sports and for me personally.  I decided to immerse myself in the social media experience and as a result, had the time of my life.  It’s really unbelievable how much social media has changed the X Games experience.  It allows us to connect to fellow fans from all around the world, staff who can give us a behind-the-scenes peek, and even the athletes.  When this year’s competitors weren’t busy Instagramming and Tweeting, they participated in some of the most intense battles for first, resulting in a lot of progression and the changing of guards.

Best Female Athlete – Chloe Kim (Snowboard) Despite some criticism for having to be reminded to grab (let’s just hope she was just nervous), Chloe Kim killed it in the SuperPipe.  She had a natural flow, and she proved to be the toughest high school freshman, winning gold after chipping her tooth in a gnarly crash during practice.

Best Male Athlete – Danny Davis (Snowboard)

As I posted on Twitter, Danny Davis had so much style that even my mom knew he should be in first.  He never lost his cool, throwing down the top-qualifying run at the end of eliminations and edging out a high-flying Taku Hiraoka on his final run.

Newcomer to Watch – Christy Prior (Snowboard)
Taking bronze your first X Games is quite the feat.  Christy Prior had the technical skills and the style to make her Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle one to remember.  She is definitely here to stay.

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski SuperPipe
The gorgeous sight of the sun disappearing behind the mountains provided a dramatic backdrop of this competition, where the men kept going bigger and harder.  It was cool to see the progression and the emotions, and everybody was on edge over which country would rise to the top (U.S., Canada, or France) until the very end.

Best Trick – Sage Kotsenberg’s Backside 1260 Off the Heels (Snowboard)
Amidst the buzz of Big Air and Spencer O’Brien’s 900, Sage Kotsenberg slipping a new trick with a lot of his signature flair.  He didn’t get nearly enough recognition for innovation so I’m giving it to him here.

Picture Perfect Moment – Yiwei Zhang shoots for the crescent moon.
 photo wxg15-1_zpsvlggpj21.jpg By Christian Murdock/Associated Press.  From sfgate.com
The juxtaposition of the moon and Yiwei Zhang in the Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe elimination gives the shot an out-of-this-world quality.  The spray of snow in the corner is the perfect embellishment, as it is reminiscent of smoke coming from a rocket.

Best Moment Outside Competition – X Games Extra Show

Okay, I may be a little biased since I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask Chloe Kim a question on the show (and chat about my dad’s office decor with Jack Mitrani off-air).  However, snowboarding fans have long known that Jack and Craig McMorris are a winning duo, and it’s great that X Games has brought them on to show the fun side of the event.

Most Educational Moment – Drones at the X Games
Finally, a use for drones that doesn’t make people cringe!   They’re bringing in a new perspective on the competition, and it will be interesting to see how they change action sports photography.

Greatest Comeback – Nick Goepper (Ski)
After not qualifying for the finals, Nick Goepper could have thrown in the towel.  However, he got in as a last minute replacement and brought his A game.  Sure his victory might have resulted from some good fortune, but it was mostly skill and level head.

Most Inspirational – Chris Devlin-Young (Mono Skier X)
Fifty three-year-old Chris Devlin-Young proved that one should never let age or disability get in the way of the gold.  He won the first Mono Skier X gold and still has the skill to dominate the races.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Simon Dumont (Ski)
 photo wxg15-2_zpsmtfho88a.jpg
By Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool.  From redbull.com
Freeskiing would not be where it is without Simon Dumont.  He’s had his ups and down at Winter X, but he always puts on a good show and tries to push the sport.  He could’ve bowed out with the hard slam he took (especially already being injured), but he still gave fans one final show.

I’m bummed that there are still pronunciation issues and name inaccuracies, but hopefully that will improve with him. However, I had a blast dedicating my weekend to the X Games.I wound up only getting four of my predictions for gold right, but I enjoyed the surprises. Congratulations to all the winners and mad props to those who got back up after a hard slam to medal.  I also want to wish a speedy recovery to the less lucky ones: Henrik Harlaut, Levi LaValle, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, and Mike Schultz.

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The last two days have been a test of my determination to watch the X Games. I wound up missing Day 1 and part of Day 2 because of work and a photoshoot. On top of that, AT&T doesn’t have WatchESPN access so I had to go hunting for a TV with cable, dinner and Mountain Dew in tow. When I found one, I wound up losing my pen. It’s been a fight to see the action, but I’m glad I was able to catch what I did.

Ski thoughts

  • The TrickTrack on the X Games site is really cool, but it takes away part of the fun of my job.
  • Sarah Burke would’ve been proud of what went down in Women’s Ski SuperPipe. Everyone except Jen Hudak (who’s coming back from injury) did a 900.
  • Annalisa Drew, a rookie, tried to go for the 1260. That’s definitely a way to get noticed.
  • The walls are 22 feet. Roz Groenewoud soared 14+ feet over that.
  • The defending gold medalist goes last, which creates potential drama. In this case, we had Maddie Bowman snagging the top spot early on and Roz trying to knock her off.
  • In the Men’s SuperPipe final, Simon Dumont made a comeback. He gave quite an impressive performance considering it’s his first comp after his injury and he’s got pins in his wrist and no poles.
  • Newcomer Aaron Blunck showed a lot of potential. He goes fast and huge, but he’s gotta learn to not be so squirrelly.
  • Kevin Rolland had good run until he clipped his ribs on last trick. That looked like a painful way to go down.
  • I’ve heard a lot about the effectiveness of visualization, and maybe the claims are true. It seemed to have helped David Wise, who was shown spinning his helmet.
  • He did the first back-to-back double cork 1080, spinning in both directions.
  • Joffrey Pollet-Villard got so much amplitude, over 23 feet.
  • Torin Yater-Wallace put up a really awesome fight for gold, especially since he was coming off of an injury and doing tricks he hadn’t tried since summer.
  • David Wise got second highest score in Ski SuperPipe history. The highest belongs to Candide Thovex.davidwise_zps27b09eba photo davidwise_zps27b09eba.jpg (From Aspen/Snowmass Instagram)

Snowboard thoughts

  • Triples (corks and rodeos) are the trick to winning Snowboard Big Air. Because the standings are determined by your two highest scores, it’s good to have different variations in the bag.
  • I did wish the judges gave more style points though.
  • Halldor Helgason took a hard fall and wound up getting a concussion. Hope he gets well soon!
  • Ståle Sandbech got an early lead with the competition trailing behind by more than 20 points for much of the evening.
  • Backside triples are harder than Cab triples so Mark McMorris’ only got a 38. It’s unbelievable to consider that triple corks were the winning trick last year.
  • Also crazy is Ulrik Badertscher getting a low score for a 1620.
  • Guys were crashing all over the place trying their triple cork variation.
  • The Big Air finals really proved that you can’t be too comfy sitting up top, especially when you’re against a hot bed of talent. Ståle didn’t try to better his score (not that I blame him because the guys were getting really beat-up), and that wound up costing him.
  • There could not have been a more dramatic conclusion. Last two riders on their last jumps, both former gold medalists, do tricks that have never been stomped in competition (and in Mark’s case, never done period) after spending most of the contest wiping out. Both Mark McMorris and Torstein Horgmo made it count although they both seemed really surprised too.

Snowmobile thoughts

  • Even though I wasn’t present to see the contest, I did watch the video of Levi LaVallee’s run and he has definitely made a comeback.
  • I also want to send well wishes to the Moore brothers. Caleb Moore has had surgery for his heart contusion. Colton Moore has been treated for a dislocated pelvis.

Congratulations to our gold medalists: Levi LaValle (Snowmobile Freestyle), Louis-Felix Paradis (Snowboard Street and Real Street judges’ vote), Maddie Bowman (Women’s Ski SuperPipe), David Wise (Men’s Ski SuperPipe), and  Torstein Horgmo (Snowboard Big Air)!

Prediction Status: 2/3
Quote of the Day: “She would fall harder than any other girl, and she would get back up and do it again until she got it.” – Maddie Bowman, on Sarah Burke
Trick of the Day: Torstein Horgmo’s switch backside triple cork 1440, with Mark McMorris’ Cab triple underflip 1440 in a a close second
Inspiration of the Day: Simon Dumont – He came out for the fans despite having surgery last December. He couldn’t use poles and still got bronze.
Question of the Day: Do you think skiing is becoming more popular than snowboarding? (The New York Times thinks so.)

Friday was mostly a snowboarding day, and it got increasingly exciting as day turned into night (which meant my notes became more illegible). I wrote down so much stuff that I had to cut back, but here’s the good stuff.  I’m still reeling from the insanity that went down.

Ski thoughts

  • Like last year, SuperPipe elimination was very intense with the big names wiping out on their first runs (they only get two).
  • David Wise’s corked 12 was so fast and smooth. He only did one double, but his run was technical enough to score high. It’s not always about the double cork.
  • Simon Dumont has been off his game. He was deeply affected by Sarah Burke’s death and even said that he wasn’t sure he would be able to ski at Winter X.
  • Second runs were make-it-or-break-it time for Simon, Torin Yater-Wallace (who had barely qualified), and Kevin Rolland. All three delivered albeit in a safe manner.winter x games day 2, Mahala Gaylord, The Denver Post
    Hometown boy Torin Yater-Wallace going big. Photo by Mahala Gaylord (The Denver Post)
  • Kevin’s mom is definitely his biggest fan. She even took a kid’s horn to make noise for him.

Snowboard thoughts

  • Cheryl Maas and her wife Stine Brun Kjeldaas, also a talented snowboarder, recently welcomed a baby girl into their family. I wonder if she’ll follow in her mothers’ footsteps.
  • Cheryl has a Tumblr that you can follow.
  • The slopestyle course is tough. The jumps are so close together that one slip up and you land wrong. That puts you a few inches off your line, and it’s enough to end your run.
  • Spencer O’Brien provided another example of why it’s important to know how to fall correctly. She came up super short (on the top of the jump pretty much) and tried to take the impact across her entire body.
  • It’s been 10 years since Kelly Clark won Olympic gold and her first Winter X gold.
  • The SuperPipe ladies had some interesting fashion choices: Elena Hight’s hot pink jacket practically glowed on my computer screen, and Maddy Schaffrick painted her face to look like a cheetah’s.
  • I Tweeted to the X Games a correction on Xuetong Cai’s name. They thought Xuetong was her last name because she’s often called “Cai Xuetong” which is the Chinese way of saying her name.
  • Maddy almost put down a Haakon flip (an inverted Cab 720), which might be the first for a female snowboarder in competition.
  • Torah Bright looked a bit rusty. She’s been away from halfpipe competitions for over a year.
  • The key to winning Women’s SuperPipe, according to Keir Dillon, is “explosiveness”. The riders need momentum, amplitude, and tricks that will blow the judges’ minds.
  • No birthday gold for Hannah Teter, but a bronze medal is a pretty good present.
  • Kelly is so awesome that she throws the 1080 in the middle of her run. She has now won the last 13 contests she has entered, and she’s the first to get back-to-back gold in Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe.
  • At Big Air qualifiers, there were whispers of who was going to pull the triple cork.
  • Even with all the hype, the guys could still find time to goof off in practice.  You can check out Torstein Horgmo and Mark McMorris playing a snowboarder’s variation of HORSE on Torstein’s website.
  • It would’ve been interesting to see Halldor Helgason get into the finals and pull a chick wing double backside rodeo. That might be a contender with the triple cork.
  • Keir was a great announcer, explaining to people at home double cork variations. Frontside is more difficult than backside double corks because you come in blind. A switch frontside, a.k.a. Cab, double cork is the hardest because you’re also coming in with the opposite foot forward. I’m thinking I need to do a post about snowboarding terms because it’s full of intricate details.
  • Sebastien Toutant lands his double corks so smoothly that they look easy.
  • With nine minutes left on the finals, it became a triple cork party between the three guys who have pulled one: Torstein, Mark, and Seb Toots.
  • Torstein threw down the gauntlet. Mark answered it by landing with a hand drag. Then on his last jump, Torstein steps it up by sticking it perfectly. It was a beautiful display of one-up manship that was about progression rather than competition (since the score is based on two jumps, Torstein could have done a “safe” trick to get a decent first score and then attempted the triple, but that isn’t his style).
  • To give you an idea of how tough the competition was, Torstein had a perfect score (50), and it wasn’t enough to beat Mark (whose triple got a 49). We had a three-way tie for second between Torstein, Seb Toots, and Eric Willet. It was broken by looking at the riders’ highest score.

Congratulations to Day 2 winners: Jamie Anderson (Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle), Kelly Clark (Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe), and Mark McMorris (Snowboard Big Air)!

Prediction Status: 4/6
Quote of the Day: Keir Dillon – “You don’t know any other cheetah girls do you?”
Sal Masakela – “I don’t.. except the ones on Disney”
Trick of the Day: TRIPLE CORK!!!
Inspiration of the Day: Kelly Clark
Question of the Day: What do you think of the Big Air judging system?

Man, I was rather overconfident of the accuracy of my predictions. There were some where I should have gone with my initial choice (over-analyzing doesn’t work here). In other cases, the results showed how different the X Games are compared to events like the Dew Tour and how well the athletes respond to a larger playing field and more pressure.

I have been catching up on the Day 3 action during the breaks in today’s contests so I’ll throw in a few thoughts from those events as well.

Ski thoughts

  • The SuperPipe guys were probably not liking it the sunny Aspen weather so much. You see, the heat leads to slippery pipe which leads to more speed. While that results in bigger amplitude, the greater inertia and lack of control means more crashes and general squirreliness.
  • Simon reminds me of freestyle motocross’ Nate Adams with his serious attitude (some might say too serious but that mentality has helped him win) and analytical approach to competition. He had a guy taping his final runs for him to review and make improvements.
  • Local boy Torin Yater-Wallace became the youngest X Games medalist. He’s a few months younger than snowcross racer Tucker Hibbert, who also medaled at the age of 15. The judges really liked his alley-oop double flatspin 900, and I did too. We’ll be seeing more from this kid.
  • Way to keep us on the edge of our seats, Kevin. He said there was “too much pressure” on him during his last run, but his smooth spins suggested that he kept his cool. Loved his reaction, so humble and sincere.
  • The pressure (on top of an injury from Killington last week) may have gotten to Bobby Brown, as he failed to medal is the event he has been dominating (Slopestyle).
  • Big Air seems to be the place for rookies to try out new moves and shine. Way to go Alex Schlopy!
  • I used to be able to count the number of rotations and multiply by 360 to call out moves.  Now that we’re going into 1260s, 1440s, and even 1620s, I can’t do math in my head that fast.

Snowboard thoughts

  • Missed the memo on Helene Olafsen being injured
  • What, Shaun White didn’t qualify? Well, this is Slopestyle, and the sport progresses so fast that it was too hard for Shaun to catch up.
  • Being a fan of old-school tricks and major style, I loved the Best Method comp. My vote went to Ross Powers. He gave us a 2002 Olympic flashback with his almost horizontal method and huge amplitude.
  • Advice all the new X Games spectators: when the announcers start yelling, it means either someone crashed hard or pulled a HUGE move. This was what I told my boyfriend, who said the Big Air tricks “all just looks like a bunch of spins” to him.
  • I have a bone to pick with Sport Science. It makes the triple cork sound like a 1620.  What is really going on is that a snowboarder is spinning 1080 degrees. On top of that he has to flip upside down three times. While his total number of degrees might add up to 1620, the rotations are on different axes. The presentation is still worth checking out.
  • The desire to see your child is strong motivation… at least for Nick Baumgartner. At lucky X Games #7, he finally gets a medal, and it happens to be gold. Very cute moment with his son at the end.
  • The debate continues over who is the better racer, 2-time Olympic champ Seth Wescott or 5-time X Games champ Nate Holland? Maybe it just depends on the course.
  • Kelly Clark seems to have taken a cue from Shaun White, using her victory run to throw down a history-making maneuver. Congrats on being the first woman to land a 1080 in competition!

Snowmobile thoughts

  • The question for Speed and Style was whether the racers would have the advantage or the freestylers. At first, it looked like racers would have an edge since they were used to hearing more than one sled out there and to have better endurance. However, Cory Davis, who left Joe Parsons in a pile of snow during semifinals, found out that not having inverted tricks was costly. He needed about an 8-second lead (that’s a long time in snocross racing).

Lots of congrats to hand out. Day 2’s winners were Kevin Rolland (Men’s Ski SuperPipe), Snowboard Best Method (Snowboard Best Method), Joe Parsons (Snowmobile Speed and Style), and Torstein Horgmo (Snowboard Big Air). Day 3’s winners were Nick Baumgartner (Men’s Snowboarder X), Lindsey Jacobellis (Women’s Snowboarder X), Sammy Carlson (Men’s Ski Slopestyle), Nic Sauve (Snowboard Street), Kelly Clark (Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe), and Alex Schlopy (Ski Big Air).

Jen’s Prediction Status: 3/8
Quote of the Day: “If you take a hard hit, you’re going to lose your wallet.” – announcer after Dan Csokonay’s crash in Snowboader X eliminations caused his wallet and money to fly out
Trick of the Day: Torstein Horgmo’s triple cork, which he did with an injury and a bad crash on his first attempt

Inspiration of the Day: The two injured gold medalists, Torstein Horgmo and Scotty Lago, deserve props for their courage/insanity. Check out Scotty’s Best Method Kodak moment.
Best Method 2011
(Photo from Winter X Games facebook page)

Question of the Day: What do you think is more impressive, 5 consecutive X Games gold medals or 2 Olympic gold medals?

Listening to: “Underneath It All” by Nine Inch Nails

Boy, talk about last minute. I’m posting this as the Ski SuperPipe eliminations are going on… though I wrote this out earlier in the day.

I actually wasn’t going to do predictions because I only watched half of the X Games last year and haven’t kept up with the scene too closely. Then I remembered that I did see the Olympics and parts of the Dew Tour. Also my Olympics predictions weren’t too far off so I’m thinking why not give it a shot. This time, I’m just sticking to gold medalists and freeskiing and snowboarding (nothing against snowmobiling and monoskier X, but the news just hasn’t been at my fingertips).  Ready for the list?  Let’s go!

Women’s Skier X – Ashleigh McIvor
Ophélie David is looking to become the second Winter X athlete to five-peat, but Ashleigh McIvor is ready to dethrone her.  She won both the World Cup and Olympics last year, and she definitely has the drive to add an X Games gold to that collection.

Men’s Skier X – Chris del Bosco
After crashing at the Olympics, Chris del Bosco is looking for redemption… and another X Games gold.  He has the speed and skill, and with his Olympics competition not present, it should be smooth sailing (well, as smooth as Skier X can be).

Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Kaya Turski
Last year, Kaya Turski won every contest she entered.  Moreover, she scored more than 11 points higher than second place at last year’s Winter X. She might have spent the past few months recovering from surgery, but Kaya isn’t afraid to go big.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Bobby Brown
The new name that strikes fear and awe in the hearts of freeskiers is Bobby Brown. The X Games rookie took home not one, but two gold medals. This year, with a few more victories under his belt and his biggest competitors out from injury, nothing is going to stop him.

Women’s Ski SuperPipe – Jen Hudak
Jen Hudak is going to battle it out with a driven Sarah Burke, but she’s got an edge: a 1080. Although she didn’t medal at Breckenridge, the first stop of the 2011 Dew Tour, you can count her on being physically and mentally ready to defend her title.

Men’s Ski SuperPipe – Simon Dumont
Ski SuperPipe competitors and fans alike know that you won’t like Simon Dumont when he’s angry, and losing makes him REALLY angry. Having lost to Kevin Rolland at last year’s Winter X Games and the latest Dew Tour stop, he is going to blast through the pipe with his signature high airs and stomp all his tricks.

Skiing Big Air – Bobby Brown
My pick had been TJ Schiller since he’s one of the few who can pull a 1620 (that’s a whopping 4 1/2 rotations), but he’s injured. Also, based on last year’s competition, the judges love technical tricks, of which Bobby Brown is the master.

Women’s Snowboarder X – Helene Olafson
Lindsey Jacobellis is another racer looking for redemption, but Helene Olafson no longer wants to be the bridesmaid. Last year, she produced consistent results, and this year she is looking to better performance.

Men’s Snowboarder X – Seth Wescott

The X Games gold has eluded Seth Wescott for years. I’m thinking his time has come. Of course, he’ll face tough competition from Nick Baumgartner, Graham Watanabe, and five-time champ Nate Holland, but we are talking about a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Jamie Anderson
Jamie Anderson is like the Bobby Brown of slopestyle. She has been on fire this year, killing the competition at both Dew Tour stops with her rail combos. She definitely has the trick repertoire to upgrade from last year’s silver.

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Eric Willett
Eric Willet has amazing double corks, and he can even do them switch. His biggest competition, Torstein Horgmo, re-injured himself last week at Killington, which might make his bigger tricks hard to pull. Thus if Eric can pull a solid run together, he can find himself on top.

Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Kelly Clark
Although Torah Bright has been the one topping the headlines and podiums, she may be a little off focus with competing at Slopestyle this year. Kelly Clark may not be as technical or have the Crippler, but she has a grab bag of 540 and 720 variations (and a frontside 900) that the judges will definitely like.

Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Shaun White
Shaun White has a huge target on his back, but he go so much bigger that all the riders have been spending the past year trying to play catch up. If he throws down the Tomahawk (double McTwist 1260), it’s all over. I’m calling the SuperPipe podium right now: Shaun White, Louie Vito, and Iouri Podladtcikov.

Snowboarding Big Air – Torstein Horgmo
Yes, he is injured, but he said he was “stupid” enough to go big anyway. The sick tricks he threw in the Slopestyle finals at Killington proved it. I’m not sure he can make a repeat performance in Slopestyle, but he will pull out all the stops for one trick (or two or three) in Big Air.