Posts Tagged ‘snocross’

To commemorate two decades of competition and innovation, X Games Austin compiled a series of milestones titled “20 Years 20 Firsts”.  Fans could vote on their favorite, and the winner was Elena Hight stomping the first ever double backside alley-oop rodeo.

The list inspired me to create one of my own.  Since this year’s X Games marks my fifteenth year of following the competition (I started watching in 1999), I decided to countdown my top fifteen firsts at X Games.

15. Jake Brown’s 720 in Skateboard Big Air (2007) – The subsequent fall overshadowed his history-making achievement, and while the horror will forever be etched in my mind, Jake’s daring trick deserves to be remembered as well.

14. TJ Schiller’s double cork 1620 in Ski Big Air (2011) – I used to be able to keep up with the math, but then TJ came along and made me wish I had a calculator.  Although he may have had to settle for second, he raised the bar for freeskiing.

13. Eito Yasutoko becomes the first Asian gold medalist in Men’s Vert Skating (2000) – He was the first Asian I saw win an X Games event (I missed seeing Ayumi Kawasaki the previous year).  It gave me something to relate to and proved that action sports is truly global.

12. Tucker Hibbert wins the first Snocross race at X (2000) – Never did I think I would be into snowmobiles, but watching 15-year-old Tucker become the youngest X Games gold medalist, beating out his father in the process, got me interested.
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Photo by Aaron Kores/

11. Ashley Fiolek becomes the first deaf X Games medalist in Women’s Moto X Super X (2009) – Ashley’s story is so inspiring and to see her win showed that with hard work, determination, and skill, you can overcome great odds.

10. Elena Hight’s double backside alley-oop rodeo in Women’s Snowboard Superpipe (2013) – Elena’s achievement proved that gender doesn’t matter, just innovation.  The fact that she won the vote is an encouraging step for female action sports athletes in overcoming the glass ceiling.

9. Zacky Warden’s bike flip backflip to late tailwhip in BMX Big Air (2013) – There are so many things going on in that trick combo that it’s hard to break it down without slow-mo.  The creativity and technicality is mind-blowing.

8. Torstein Horgmo’s triple flip in Snowboard Big Air (2011) – Although it may have been more flip than cork, no one thought a triple anything was possible.  Torstein took the chance and set in motion the events that would change snowboarding.

7. Fabiola da Silva and Ayumi Kawasaki compete in the Men’s Vert Skating (2001) – Thanks to the Fabiola Rule, both ladies’ scores were judged against the men.  Although neither qualified for the finals, it opened doors and foreshadowed Fabiola’s future boundary-shattering accomplishments.
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Ayumi Kawasaki in the prelims. Photo by Bakke/Shazamm/ESPN (from Skatelog)

6. Caleb Wyatt’s no-handed to no-footed backflip on snow in Moto X Best Trick (2004) – As backflips were starting to become the norm, Caleb took it to a whole new level while on tricky terrain.  He shut up all the haters, and heck the whole thing even inspired poetry.

5. Kevin Robinson’s double flair in BMX Vert Best Trick (2006) – Kevin is best known for his flair, and now he’ll be immortalized for doing the first double flair.  The highlight of watching it was telling my mom that this is where the rider we saw a few years back is and having her root for Kevin too.

4. Vicki Golden becomes the first female freestyle motocross competitor in Moto X Best Whip (2013) – When I got into action sports, I fantasized about being the first female FMX rider at the X Games.  People told me it wasn’t possible for any woman to ride with the boys, but Vicki proved them wrong.

3. Travis Pastrana’s double backflip in Moto X Best Trick (2006) – This was the first time I remember being completely unsure of the outcome because a double backflip on a dirt bike seemed so far-fetched.  The suspense, the glorious payout, and the mutual admiration of both fans and non-fans alike made this one of the best moments ever.
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Photo by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photo Files (from Motorcycle-USA)

2. Travis Pastrana wins the first Moto X gold (1999) – I had to put Travis twice because if it weren’t for him, I would have never gotten into FMX and be where I’m at.  He was the perfect ambassador for this new sport, and the rest is history.

1. Tony Hawk’s 900 in Skateboard Best Trick (1999) – This was the other moment from X Games that changed my life forever.  The sheer determination, coupled with the support from his fellow skaters and the disregard for competition rules, summed up what action sports was all about and inspired me to never give up.

I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of posting. It’s almost time for Winter X Europe and I have yet to recap what went down in Aspen. My sincerest apologies. It took me a while to decide what I ought to do for my Winter X recap, and then this weekend, inspiration struck.

I am looking back at my favorite moments of Winter X Games 15 Oscars style. Now this seems a little bizarre, but the Winter X is full of action, drama, surprises, carnage, tears, unique characters, and triumphs of the human spirit… just like the movies. Also, similar to an awards show, the X Games has excited winners, speeches of gratitude, controversial decisions, and crazy fashion. Without further ado, here are your winners in the first ever Academy of TtPoX Awards for Winter X.

Best Newcomer – Sebastien Toutant (Snowboarding Slopestyle)
This year, we saw a lot of fresh faces on the podium. Many were surprises, but Sebastien Toutant made his intentions clear during slopestyle elimination. Armed with a bag of double cork variations, he clocked in a 97.00, the highest score ever. Then he led a pack of teenage shredders onto the podium, indicating that a new era of slopestyle has begun.
Other nominees: Torin Yater-Wallace (Ski Superpipe), Alex Schlopy (Ski Big Air)

Best Trick – Daniel Bodin’s double grab backflip (Snowmobile Best Trick)
This category is full of personal biases, but let me explain how my top choice was not the triple cork. First, to be nitpicky, Torstein did have a hand drag. Second, I’m a moto girl so a double grab flip is something that I never thought would happen. A double grab right-side up is still impressive. So to do on a much heavier snowmobile is just out of this world. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the trick, Daniel Bodin has to let go of his sled while it/he is upside down. The trick’s level of danger is something I don’t even want to think about, and Daniel pulled it off like it was nothing.
Other nominees: Scotty Lago’s method (Snowboard Best Method), Torstein Horgmo’s triple cork (Snowboard Big Air)

Best Athlete in a Snowmobile Event – Tucker Hibbert (Snocross)
Tucker Hibbert is so good snowmobiling that the freestylers dread the day he decides to learn some flips (fortunately for them, that doesn’t seem on Tucker’s agenda in the near future). Despite getting the last gate pick in qualifiers, he still got the holeshot and led the race, proving that starting position doesn’t matter when you have the speed, skill, and determination. He then led every lap of the finals. Tucker’s victory made him the second Winter X athlete to five-peat and the SnoCross racer with the most gold medals: a whopping six.
Other nominees: Caleb Moore (Snowmobile Best Trick), Daniel Bodin (Freestyle Snowmobiling)

Best Female Athlete in a Ski Event – Kelsey Serwa (Skier X)
While Kelsey Serwa’s win might not have been as clean or painless as her freestyling peers, it showed what the X Games are all about: balls-out courage and risk-taking with a little bit of stupidity. She and Ophelie David could have played it safe, but instead, they showed that the women are just as tough as the men by flying through the last kicker in their close race and crashing across the finish line. Kelsey’s determination paid off as she fended off the four-time champion to a hard-earned victory.
Other nominees: Sarah Burke (Ski Superpipe), Kaya Turski (Ski Slopestyle)

Best Male Athlete in a Ski Event – Kevin Rolland (Ski Superpipe)
Kevin Rolland found himself in a precarious position in the Superpipe finals: defending gold medalist out of podium contention after two runs, a newcomer having just overtaken one of the favorites for the top spot, last run of the night with all eyes on him. A lesser man would have caved under the pressure, but Kevin nailed back-to-back spins in both directions, showing why he is dominating Ski Superpipe right now.
Other nominees: Torin Yater-Wallace (Ski Superpipe), John Teller (Skier X)

Best Female Athlete in a Snowboard Event – Kelly Clark (Snowboard Superpipe)
Kelly Clark’s willingness to push herself and her sport is why she has remained one of the top snowboarders for ten years. She didn’t even have to take her last run; her first run was the highest scoring of the night and the only one to break the 90s. However, Kelly spiced up her victory with the first 1080… in the middle of the run. She’s the first woman to do one in competition, and I think it’s safe to say that she’ll be the only one to do it mid-run for a while.
Other nominees: Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboarder X), Enni Rukajärvi (Snowboard Slopestyle)

Best Male Athlete in a Snowboard Event – Torstein Horgmo (Snowboard Big Air)
You’ve all seen the video now. Sal Masakela compared it to other epic X Games moments, like Tony Hawk’s 900 and Travis Pastrana’s double backflip. While he may not be a household name, Torstein Horgmo goes down in history for landing the first triple cork in competition… on a kicker that probably wasn’t meant for such a trick… with broken ribs. You know what the most unbelievable part is? He wasn’t satisfied at all. Nevertheless, Torstein deserves recognition for taking risks (he wound up with a concussion), never quitting (he fell on the previous two attempts), and pushing his sport to a new level. Did I mention that he competed in Slopestyle the two days later?
Other nominees: Scotty Lago (Snowboard Superpipe), Sebastien Toutant (Snowboard Slopestyle)

Best Finals Event – Men’s Ski Superpipe
What inspired this Oscar-style recap was the dramatic moments in Winter X, and man, there were a lot of contests that kept me on the edge of my seat. In talking about Kevin Rolland, I described a scenario that could be the climactic scene of a movie. We had your fresh-faced rookie in awe of skiing with his heroes, the seasoned vet focused on winning, and the defending champ who had one last chance at victory. There was suspense, tears, cheers, disappointment, shock, and of course, mind-blowing stunts from our competitors.
Other nominees: Snowmobile Best Trick, Snowboard Big Air

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Kevin Pearce returns to Winter X in good spirits.
Thanks to the support of the snowboarding community and broadcast TV coverage, Kevin Pearce became a household name and an inspiration. Last year, he was in critical condition. We followed his road to recovery, and to see him in good health and loving life was a moment worthy of a few tears.
Other nominees: Nick Baumgartner celebrates his first X Games gold with his son. Athletes take a stand against cyber-bullying in PSA (see below and find out which Olympian doesn’t Tweet).

Lifetime Achievement Award – Peter Line
Snowboarding would not be where it is today without Peter Line and his rodeos. We wouldn’t have the double corks that are now a competition staple and triple corks that are the latest headline makers. He created one of the most influential group of riders, the original Forum 8. The man was a pioneer with a career that spans more than 20 decades, and it was very cool for Winter X to have him show off some old school style in the Best Method comp.

Listening to: “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails

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