Posts Tagged ‘skateboarding’

Obviously I wasn’t expecting to go on hiatus again since I was in the middle of X Games Austin posts. It was a big snowball of work, other hobbies, politics, and yes, lack of motivation that kept me away. I’m looking to reignite the spark for blogging, and I’m gonna try to plow through these X Games posts (I may be skipping the 2017 winter events).

Just to refresh your memory, here was my previous post about the first two days of X Games Austin 2016.  Saturday was a supposed to have been a busy day, but the weather had other plans. The rain kept coming and going so events got moved to later in day or postponed until Sunday. With how frustrated I felt as a spectator, I can only imagine how much worse it was for the athletes.

Women’s Skate Street

  •  I didn’t get to catch much of women’s skate street because it started pouring shortly after the comp began.
  • Also, due to the raised stage, I couldn’t get a good view of the rails without going onto the grass (which I’m allergic to).
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  • It was cool seeing some of the women, especially Mariah Duran, help clean up the course later on in the replay.  They at least were in good spirits.
  • Later I learned that the spines on the fake cacti were actual screws.  Are they trying to make this more dangerous?!

The one upside to the rain was that while seeking shelter, I was able to meet Jamie Bestwick and get his autograph.  He really likes Austin so he was bummed that this was the last year (and he didn’t fault me for missing BMX Vert this year).

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He’s so tall and I’m so short that I wasn’t sure we’d fit in the frame. (more…)

Hello there, I’m back!  My hiatus was unplanned with some unexpected life changes and the problem with my old editing program.  However, I’ve got a new version of Paint Shop Pro, and I’m slowly trying to get back in the habit of blogging while handling increased work responsibilities.  X Games Austin has come and gone, but we still have the memories so let’s revisit them, shall we?
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I didn’t head to Austin until Friday due to work and lack of events prior to Friday afternoon, but I did catch Step Up and Flat-track on TV.  So here were some of the things I noted.

Step Up

  • I was bummed to miss out on Step Up again since this year was Matt Buyten’s last.  I’ve been following his career for more than 10 years, and he’s just an awesome guy.  Unfortunately he got knocked out pretty early.
  • Bryce Hudson has “Soap Boy” on the back of his jersey, which was adorable.
  • It was interesting to see who was close friends with whom.  The cameras kept showing Bryce and talking with Jarryd McNeil (and even giving him pointers) while Matt was chatting with Ronnie Renner a few times.
  • Matt and Ronnie’s friendship must be like a trip through the history of Step Up.  Both guys have a ton of jumps under their belts.
  • I could not believe this was Jarryd’s first X Games Step-Up competition.  He flew so high.
  • I was not a fan of the shared gold medals.  While I understood the time limits with live TV, it felt SO anticlimactic.  It would have been awesome to see how high Jarryd and Libor Podmol could have gone.  I was stoked for both winners though.

Flat-track Racing

  • I didn’t get the hype over it.  It’s just not as exciting as say, motocross.  Also I don’t know why they didn’t have women’s racing too.
  • Tough luck for last year’s winner Bryan Smith.  He crashed around the first turn and took another guy out.  I thought he could gain some ground, but once you’re out, you’re out.  The 20 laps went by super fast.
  • Redemption for Jared Mees was clearly the headline for the night.

After the weather (and my parents) threatened to make Austin a no-go, we made it and it was freakin’ hot and sunny.  The earlier rain had made Dallas cooler so I thought it would be the same.  Nope.  I got to COTA as Skateboard Vert under way, and the skaters were flying high despite the heat.

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While I hate starting off the year with a downer, I also think it’s important to remember the lives our community has lost.  They would want us to move on, but let’s not forget their contributions.

On May 16, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt died in a wingsuit flight accident at Yosemite National Park.  Potter was a well-known pioneer in climbing and BASE jumping.  Hunt was an up-and-comer in the scene and Potter’s long-time flying partner.

The Nitro Circus family lost one of its own on September 28.  Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident during the opening ceremony of a celebrity golf tournament.  The ski-BASE jumper reached fans from any action sports disciplines due to his involvement with Nitro Circus.

October 1 saw another wingsuit fatality.  Johnny Strange, a BASE jumper and the youngest person to climb the seven summits, died at the age of 23.

In early December, downhill skateboarding and street luge legend Biker Sherlock took his own life.  The link I put includes info on how to donate to his family.

Lastly, Japanese motocross rider Cloud Toda died in a foam pit fire.  He overcame great odds after an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down and was practicing whips in hopes of getting into the X Games.

We will miss all of these individuals, but their spirits live on as we are reminded to seize each day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I was having a hard time getting into the spirit until I saw a couple of posts from the X Games that gave me the warm fuzzies.

The first is a continuation of a story I shared in my last Facebook Findings post.  The X Games spoke to Jeanean Thomas and her daughter Peyton about the random act of kindness they experienced at the skatepark.  The skater who helped Peyton out has been identified as Ryan Carney, who worked at a skate shop.

Ryan Carney

By Judee Richardson Schofield/ The Cambridge Times

I did a little digging and discovered that this isn’t the first time Ryan has given back to the community.  The Cambridge Times revealed that he participated in a petition to keep the Pipes and Rails skate park open and often tries keep the parks a safe and welcoming place for everyone.  Talk about a great role model!

The X Games Facebook page also shared a video that truly delighted me.  My favorite thing about Christmas is all the different versions of The Nutcracker.  Ballet Austin’s version invites special VIPs play the role of Mother Ginger, a comedic character who has eight gingerbread children pop out of her skirts.  BMX rider Morgan Wade was one of the guest stars this year, and it’s safe to say that he brought a lot of enthusiasm to the role.

This is not much of a picspam since I was only able to attend for a couple hours in the morning and my photos did not turn out great (apparently I’m good at vert shots but not other events).    D-Town Throwdown took place on October 17 in the middle of downtown Dallas and featured three skateboard disciplines: vert, street, and downhill.  On top of the competitions, there was a freestyle motocross demo, concerts, and live art.  There was also a mini-ramp set up for attendees to do some skating of their own.
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The downhill event took place inside a parking garage. Qualifiers ran all day and included a diversity of riders. In the end, Billy Bones took the win with his grandparents watching.
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Trying to catch a shot of racers out of the chute was a bit tricky.

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I’ve seen a few of posts on my Facebook feed featuring women in action sports.  A couple of them even tie into a “Feminism in Action (Sports)” post I am planning to write.  It’s really heart-warming to see female action sports athletes get exposure and my friends championing it.

One that particularly tugged at my heartstrings was a BuzzFeed Canada story that a friend shared.  Jeanean Thomas posted a letter on Twitter to the young man who helped teach her daughter how to skate.
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This is a perfect example of what feminism is.  Jeanean get mega props for letting her daughter know that she has equal  right to be at the skatepark.  The young man was a wonderful ally by going above and beyond to help out this beginner skater even though he was made fun of.  We need to be commending guys like him, not teasing him.  This is how a girl or a boy will develop skills and a new love for skateboarding.  When I was her daughter’s age, I had the same reservations about going to the skate park and thus never went due to lack of support.  As a result, I never went and grew frustrated with learning how to skate.  Maybe others aren’t as easily discouraged, but Jeanean’s daughter got a confidence boost through a kind individual extending a helping hand and not discriminating against her age, skill, and gender.

Another skating post appeared the other day.  My co-worker shared this striking photo, and I knew it had to be the work of Skateistan.
 photo 12278839_10205313294543871_1511743250074323011_n_zpsq5zpyw8h.jpg By Jake Simkin

It’s a non-profit that uses skateboarding to empower youth in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.  It has particularly reached out to Afghani girls who cannot ride bikes or participate in sports.  I’ll be going in depth into Skateistan in a later post, but I had to share this photo along with my co-worker’s comment that it’s evidence that “people are the same all over the world”.  It’s a message of particular importance in these recent trying times.

Finally, another friend shared a “Women in the World” feature on Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei. I’ll be writing more about her and Noora Moghaddas in a later post too, but they’re badasses for essentially breaking the law to do what they love.  Feminism often involves taking risks, and women like Behanz certainly are with the hopes that there will be more equality in the future.
 photo slack-imgs-1-com_zpsp1msdvgz.jpeg Photo from The New York Times

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)
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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).

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Since we had to get home by Sunday night, I was incredibly grateful that my parents let me check out Big Air Doubles before heading out. Initially I was envisioning something like Skate Doubles from a few years back, but that didn’t seem like a safe idea. The event wound up being basically Big Air with alternating BMX and skateboarding. It was still a lot of fun to watch (Big Air always is), and the teamwork aspect did make the athletes think about their runs a little differently.

Big Air Doubles

  • I loved the idea of bringing in two different disciplines. Not only did the athletes become motivated in a new way, it also helped dispel the idea that some sort of rivalry inherently existed between skaters and BMXers.
  • What would the teams have been like had the athletes been allowed to choose. Also who knew whom before this event?
  • The best spot to be was righty under the gap because I could see tricks over it and on the quarterpipe (the crowd was thinner). Plus it was the high-five zone.
  • Can I just say props to all the athletes for coming by to give high fives instead of taking the golf carts? They didn’t have to spend the energy to do so, and that made all of us even more stoked.
  • Bob Burnquist and Elliot Sloan were so on point. I was so stoked to have captured Bob taking his foot off during his switch ollie.
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  •  The skaters had a lot of early successes, but then the BMXers started busting out huge tricks.
  • My mom said that my dad and I appeared on TV, but I didn’t see us during the replay.
  • Steve McCann has a very frightening crash—the worst I saw over the weekend. He wound up in the hospital but later posted on Instagram that he was okay and pretty stoked on getting silver thanks to a previous run. XG2015 Big Air Doubles05
  •  Jake Brown wasn’t having much luck over the weekend in terms of landing tricks. He gave it his all though.
  • Bob and Morgan Wade, a.k.a. “Team X-Ray”, chose to sit out their last runs. Despite what we learned from previous contests, it was probably the best. Morgan hit his knee hard, and even if he didn’t look it all weekend, Bob did break his arm. They both were in good spirits though and even traded equipment.

After the competition, my dad and I went to see if the Moto Pits were open. Unfortunately the riders were getting ready for Best Whip and Quarter Pipe so they closed off the area. We passed by the MegaRamp on our way out and saw several of the athletes still hanging around for autographs and photos. I thought that was really rad. I was able to get photos with Bob, Morgan, and Colton Satterfield (flash was off so I couldn’t tell when my dad pressed the shutter, hence me looking awkward). Since I was one of the last people, I didn’t get to chat very much, but Morgan said his knee would be okay. I just missed Tom Schaar, as he dashed away on his skateboard, leaving his mom behind to carry the luggage. Teens will be teens.
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My first X Games experience was a dream come true. Even if I didn’t get to do all the things I planned, the unexpected moments—namely the athlete interactions— made up for that. I’ve covered most of my complaints/things to note if you go, but I’ll add that the food situation sucked for vegetarians. Maybe the Clubhouse Café had more options, but the stalls and trucks did not. Another annoyance was that the people who sold drinks often shouted over the announcers and standing in the way of the ramp. I appreciated the water refill stations though. They were always full so you didn’t have to buy water if you brought your own bottle.

Six out of my thirteen predictions were right, which isn’t that great but we had some surprises. I’m going to wrap things up with my tradition of the “eXponential Awards”, and with those, I’ll include the events I wasn’t able to catch. It’s been really fun recapping this amazing experience. I’m already planning for next year and would love to have travel buddies (I think my parents are done despite the fun they had).

First I have to give a shout-out to Skype for giving me two extra tickets. My parents got to enjoy X Games with me and hang out in the Gold Lounge when they needed a break. It was the best deal ever, and it was all because I hopped in the chat.

Second, I wound up not going to Thursday’s Step-Up competition because I thought you had to buy tickets. It turned out that tickets were for the reserved area. I wish the X Games site had made that clearer, but it was probably better because parking was probably a nightmare.

Speaking of parking, if you’re there for the entire weekend, getting a pass on-line is a fantastic deal. It wound up being a little over $10, which was how much people were charging to park in the middle of a field half a mile away. You don’t want to be walking in a field on the side of the road late at night after Big Air; you could step in a ditch or cow poop. Okay, onto the events…
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BMX Vert

  • That green parasol you see in the crowd footage was us. It really helped us endure the heat.
  • My dad picked up on what the judges were looking for really quickly: amplitude, flow, style, and difficulty. The only thing he may have missed were the technical tricks that don’t look as big. I was impressed because he called most of top 5.
  • My mom might not have understood what was going on, but she was stoked for DMC because he’s 48 and still going strong.
  • I had no idea that Chad Kagy was injured until later on. He rode really well.
  • 540 flair— I couldn’t even register what had happened because all I could see was spinning. There’s no slow-mo in real life so you have to be quick. Seriously though, Vince Byron killed it. Everything was so solid.
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  • Simon Tabron was also on fire that day. He had some of the biggest airs.
  • Jamie Bestwick put up a good fight but seemed a bit off in terms of height and rhythm. I loved the back-to-back-to-back flairs though. As he is known for being competitive, it was cool to see him pass the mantle over to Vince via personally handing him the gold.

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Boy do I have a lot of X Games content to share.  I’m really eager to get to them, but with yesterday being “Go Skate Day”,  I remembered that I hadn’t gone around to writing about the Jeff Phillips Tribute at 4DWN from last month.  Unfortunately, it was when Texas was being pounded by rain so I missed the little bit of vert that happened.  There was still some great action indoors from the locals.  My camera set-up wasn’t ideal, and I learned that shooting street/park is a completely different ordeal.  However, a nice gentleman gave me some tips on how to follow a skater and catch the right moment.

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Despite the weather, lots of people came out to honor Jeff’s memory and support the Suicide and Crisis Center. For more photos from this year’s event and the one from 2013, check out my Flickr album.