Posts Tagged ‘skicross’

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:

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I don’t think I’ve had a harder time making predictions.  It’s not because I’ve added snowmobile events and taken more time to deliberate, but rather, everyone has stepped up their game.  Even though we’ve got some possible two- and three-peats, there are many challengers who have made a name for themselves in the past year.  To mix things up even more, injuries have taken several big names out of the competition.  There’s no doubt that the 2012 Winter X Games will be exciting to watch.

Women’s Skier X – Hedda Berntsen
The favorites are all out due to injury, but don’t count out Hedda Berntsen.  She won silver at the Olympics and has a background in multiple skiing disciplines that might just give her the extra edge.

Men’s Skier X – Chris del Bosco
Chris del Bosco definitely has the speed.  He was barely edged out for the gold last year, and he’s going to let that fuel his competitive spirit.

Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Kaya Turski
Although Kaya Turski is going to have some tough competition in her quest for a three-peat, she just came off a Dew Tour win at Killington.  Last March, she became the first woman to land a switch 1080, and she’s got a whole bunch of other technical tricks that will make her stand out.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Tom Wallisch
Tom Wallisch has been dominating the Dew Tour which his rail combos and back-to-back double corks.  He has a tendency to get it together at the last minute, but if that means he thrives under pressure, then he’ll be poised to take the win.

Women’s Ski SuperPipe – Brita Sigourney
Brita Sigourney had a great season last year, and she’s keeping the momentum going with a Grand Prix World Cup win and a third at Killington.  She’s got an arsenal of rotations and always packs in as many hits as possible.

Men’s Ski SuperPipe – Kevin Rolland
While Torin Yater-Wallace may be the It Boy and and the guy who can beat” Kevin Rolland, the two-time defending gold medalist is going to put up a fight.  He is one of the most consistent skiers around, and he links doubles like they’re nothing.

Ski Big Air – Bobby Brown
Last year, Bobby Brown was plagued with injury.  Now that he’s back in full health, watch him throw down some insane tricks… like possibly a variation on the triple cork (which he was the first skier to stomp).

Women’s Snowboarder X – Maëlle Ricker
Lindsey Jacobellis had been my pick until she tore her ACL in today’s practice.  This leaves the door for her rival (and Olympic gold medalist), Maëlle Ricker, to slide into a third X Games victory.

Men’s Snowboarder X – Nate Holland
Hot off an FIS World Cup win, Nate Holland is looking to reclaim the top spot.  He has the drive and the aggressive style that will send him to the lead.

Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Jamie Anderson
It was hard to pick a winner with so many awesome skiers in the field, but rail tricks are going separate out the best.  Jamie Anderson has the technical tricks, big spins, and smooth style that has brought her many victories already. 

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Sebastian Toutant
Like the ladies, any of the guys could easily claim the top spot.  However, Sebastian Toutant has some of the biggest, cleanest tricks, and his recent second place finishes will be fuel for him to step up his game.

Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Kelly Clark
Recently, Kelly Clark has dominated women’s pipe the same way Shawn White has dominated men’s, winning the last twelve contests she has entered.  Although her competitors are starting to close the gap, she has hinted at new tricks that will make her stand out.

Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Iouri Podladtchikov
If there is one man who can end Shaun White’s reign, it is Iouri Podladtchikov.  He has one-upped Shaun’s double McTwist 1260 by doing it switch, and if he was playing it safe at last week’s competition (which he won), then he’s definitely got a winning run up his sleeve.

Snowboarding Big Air – Torstein Horgmo
Torstein Horgmo threw the first triple cork in competition while injured, and he was pissed… because the landing wasn’t perfect.  This is the type of competitor he is so while others have done the triple now, he’s likely to find something completely unexpected.

Freestyle Snowmobile – Heath Frisby
Freestyle gold had eluded Heath Frisby, but with favorites Levi Lavalle and Daniel Bodin injured (apparently one day apart from one another), this veteran and innovator has the opportunity to rise to the top. 

Snowmobile Best Trick – Caleb Moore
Last year, we got a taste of the insanity that the Moore brothers are capable of.  Caleb is a bit more skilled of the two, and not only does he have the creativity to come up with new tricks, but he also demonstrates the commitment to pull off combos.

Sorry for the delay. After the freak ice storm that hit Texas, I needed a break from all things winter. However, the awesome memories that Winter X XV brought couldn’t keep me away for too long. All of Sunday, I was watching the X Games web broadcast so prepare for a great deal of observations and commentary.

Ski thoughts

  • The fastest skier wears yellow. It’s like having a target on your back.
  • Was the audio of Ashleigh McIvor’s crash necessary? It was scary enough watching her take a tumble.
  • That X Course was brutal, especially the “Money Booter” at the end.
  • Would you trade blood and potential broken bones to get a spot on the podium? Kelsey Serwa and Ophelie David did, and that’s why Skier X girls are as hardcore as the guys.
  • Privateers often have a huge disadvantage (no sponsorship = no money to get new equipment). Just ask freestyle snowmobiler Daniel Bodin, who went factory this year and won gold. However, John Teller (Skier X) proved that you can beat the odds and the favorite to win the event.
  • Mono Skier X is a lesson in perseverance. If you fall, pick your self right back up and continue.  Sean Rosen did that and wound up first in the semifinal.
  • According to the Sport Science feature, Mono Skier X athletes have it much harder than their Skier X peers due to a lower center of gravity, less blood circulating through their body, and concentration of pressure put on their upper bodies.

Snowboard thoughts

  • Were names given to the Slopestyle obstacles just so we can hear bad puns such as, “It’s always the hardest to come up with the Down Payment” (Keir Dillon)?
  • Playing it safe does not pay off. That might explain why Jamie Anderson, who has won every Slopestyle contest she entered prior to Winter, only got bronze.
  • Whether you’re racing or throwing down tricks, riding snowmobile or sliding on skis or a snowboard, depth perception is important.  Thus, the blue line is everyone’s best friend.
  • Torstein Horgmo had the most creative use of the joystick.  Hard to believe he’s fighting broken ribs and a concussion (from Big Air).
  • According to Keir, Mikkel Bang holds his grabs for 900 degrees of his 1080.  That scores major points from the judges.
  • Being a judge means that you have to be real picky about stuff like grabs and direction of a spin.  Thank god for replays.
  • The medalists in Men’s Slopestyle are all teenagers and only in their first and second years of X Games competition.   Watch out for the young guns!
  • Are 1260 double corks are the new thing to throw?
  • Shaun White’s competitors came back with a vengeance.  With Peetu Piiroinen’s amplitude, Kazuhiro Kokubo’s tweaked out McTwists, Louie Vito’s successive double corks, and Scotty Lago‘s smooth riding, it wasn’t going to be as easy for him to get the SuperPipe gold.
  • All the snowboarders love Kazu’s style, but the judges favor technicality and difficulty.
  • Shaun was still so good that a bad run for him was a good run for others.  Nevertheless, Scotty came close to interrupting his four-peat, and I actually thought Shaun’s second run score was rather high.
  • Scotty was looking good for a guy who lost 12 pounds in 2 weeks (via the liquid diet).  He should win the MVP award for entering 4 contests and medaling in 2.

Snowmobile thoughts

  • Snocross was referred to as a “team sport”.  If your mechanics don’t do a good job, then your performance is going to suffer.
  • Tucker Hibbert showed that you shouldn’t complain about your gate pick.  He still managed to get the holeshot.  Of course, he also became the second Winter X athlete to five-peat.
  • Adaptive Snocross is another inspiring event.  These guys will not let paralysis or loss of legs get in the way of their need for speed.
  • Even though he finished 6th this year, 2010 Adaptive Snocross bronze medalist Doug Henry is undoubtedly the comeback king.  He restarted his motocross career after breaking his back, then went onto SuperMoto (where he won Summer X gold).  After an accident left him partially paralyzed, he moved onto Adaptive Snocross.
  • The level of insanity in Best Trick has reached the point where video games tricks are coming to life: tsunami flip, lazy boy flip, Carolla/body varial, double grab flip…
  • Then there was this thing, dubbed the “brother backflip”.
  • Usually judges like innovation, but this year, they seemed to favor Superman/seat grab variations.  They also seemed hell-bent on providing that this was a serious competition and not a wacky exhibition, but is the Carolla a circus trick?

My final congratulatory wishes go to Enni Rukajärvi (Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle), John Teller (Men’s Skier X), Kelsey Serwa (Women’s Skier X), Mike Schultz (Adaptive Snocross), Tucker Hibbert (Snocross), Sebastien Toutant (Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle), Josh Dueck (Mono Skier X), Daniel Bodin (Snowmobile Best Trick), and Shaun White (Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe). Thank you to all the athletes for all your efforts during these amazing four days!

Jen’s Prediction Status: 4/14 – So my predictions were inaccurate but I’m okay with that.  The people who threw them off were the underdogs and rookies that deserved to make themselves known to the world.
Quote of the Day: “Hard work in life, no matter what you do, pays off.” – John Teller
Trick of the Day: Daniel Bodin’s double grab backflip

Inspiration of the Day: all the Mono Skier X and Adaptive Snowcross athletes
Doug Henry
(Photo by Stephen W. Clark for American Snowmobiler)

Question of the Day: Do you think Caleb Moore’s Carolla should have scored higher than Daniel’s double grab flip?

That’s it for my notes. I’m thinking of a clever way to recap everything because that’s what I do every year. Plus, I want to highlight the courage, perseverance, and camaraderie that draws me to the X Games. You’ve probably been as saturated with X Games stuff as I have been with ice and snow so I’ll give everyone a week off before we relive the memories of Winter X Games XV.

Listening to: “Hu Shi Luan Xiang” – K One feat. Ivy Hsu

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.