Posts Tagged ‘snowboarding’

If you’re not quite ready for spring, why not relive the magic of the Winter Olympics with my recap series for Breach TV?  Here’s an “episode guide” on which action sports events I cover:

There were a lot of things I could have said, but I was asked to do an overview of all the different events.  Also I live-blogged the events I was able to catch live on my personal facebook (with some comments on Twitter).  Now that I’ve taken a long enough break, look forward to more posts, some winter sports-related and others looking forward to the summer.

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It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I was stoked to catch all the action.  I got a little bit of deja vu with the addition Snowbike Best Trick, but this time around, the riders are on machines equipped to be on snow and the athletes seem more stoked about it.  Olympic years are always interesting, and what went down kinda changed my mind about who may be in contention for the gold.

Jack Mitrani’s post-show went to Facebook this year, and I really enjoyed the interactive elements.  I got a couple of shout-outs, and my silly comment about Henrik Harlaut’s pants even became a conversation topic (I’m waiting for it to make news again at the Olympics).

Best Female Athlete – Sarah Hoefflin (Ski)
Gotta give props to my fellow scientist! Sarah Hoefflin has a degree in neuroscience and took up skiing after not getting into med school.  Her backup plan is paying off as she got a gold in Women’s Ski Big Air.

Best Male Athlete – Henrik Harlaut (Ski)
Henrik Harlaut must not have slept very much over X Games weekend.  He scored a gold in Men’s Ski Big Air, which took place in the evening.  Then he got up bright and early to get another victory in Men’s Ski Slopestyle.  In between, he got to see two of his favorite rappers, Method Man and Red Man, in concert.  Henrik also deserves props for speaking his mind about the new Big Air format, which requires athletes to spin both directions.

Newcomer to Watch – Reira Iwabuchi (Snowboard)
The Big Air jump did not intimidate this pint-sized rookie.  Reira Iwabuchi stomped gnarly tricks early in the competition and proved to be a very strategic athlete by making sure she got both directions down early on.

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Snowboard Superpipe
The Men’s Snowboard Superpipe finals was an epic nail biter.  Ayumu Hirano threw down the first-ever back-to-back 1440s (Shaun who?), and Scotty James defended his gold as best as he could.  It wound up not being enough, but his score was close.  There was also Iouri Podlachikov’s horrifying crash (thankfully he seems to be doing better) and Ben Ferguson’s extremely tech run.

Best Trick – Marcus Kleveland’s Quadruple Cork 1800 (Snowboard)
Can you believe this history-making trick did not get Marcus Kleveland the win in Snowboard Big Air?  Not to discredit Max Parrot, who did a Cab Quad 1800, but the new scoring system didn’t favor Marcus so we’re gonna give him credit for being the first here.

Picture Perfect Moment – Boarding and Bokeh
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Chase Josey during practice.  By Mark Kohlman/ ESPN
Normally I’m more interested in pictures that put the athlete in the forefront; without them, we wouldn’t have the X Games after all.  However, the bokeh in this shot is a major attention grabber, and it looks a lot like snow.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Stale Sandbech gets an SUV rental.
Let me preface this by saying I’m a terrible driver so this comes from a place of empathy.  I tried to learn how to drive on my mother’s Chevy Tahoe, and I live in Texas.  I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Stale Sandbech, who’s used to smaller cars, to navigate the tight Aspen roads.

Most Educational Moment – the X-tionary
I learned a new term—”bolts”—and it’s a new fave.  Hearing Jack Mitrani and Craig McMorris go over lingo was a lot of fun, and it was interesting to see how the terms differ between the disciplines (like when Diana Dahlgren taught them “wadded it”).  Maybe we’ll hear some over the Olympics?

Greatest Comeback – Brett Turcotte (Snowmobile)
While Mark McMorris’ recovery story was the comeback of weekend (and deservingly so), Brett Turcotte experienced his own life-threatening accident last year.  He lost over 50% of his blood in an FMX crash.  Not only did he come back to compete, but he won two out of the three events he was in!

Most Inspirational – Shred Hate
It’s been a year since X Games kicked off their Shred Hate initiative, but it remains a super important mission.  Having found my sanctuary in action sports, I was deeply moved by the athletes’ comments about their personal experiences as both the bullied and the bullies.  If we can change a small group of kids, that’s doing something to make the world better.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Marie Martinod (Ski)
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By Phil Ellsworth/ ESPN Images
Although she could not repeat her victory, Marie Martinod still tried her best at her final X Games, having gone for a huge cork 1080.  We’re gonna miss this veteran skier after she retires at the end of this season, but she has sure inspired a bunch of young women with her boldness and resilience.  And maybe her daughter will one day pick up the poles?

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck to everyone heading over the Olympics! Speaking of which, I’m working with BreachTV to provide a recap series.  There will be lots of commentary on snowboarding and freeskiing so click here to check out my channel.

I have several issues with Shaun White, who used to be one of my favorite snowboarders.  I’ve followed his career since we were both 14 years old, but over the years, I started to see the criticisms that the community had for him.  It was glaringly obvious at the U.S. Grand Prix this weekend, and Todd Richards has invited a discussion on Shaun’s perfect score.  I want to talk about another issue, one that is much bigger and yet no longer discussed.  In 2016, Shaun’s former bandmate Lena Zawaideh sued him for unpaid wages and sexual harassment.

They reached a settlement early last year, a few months before the Harvey Weinstein cases broke news and the #MeToo movement began.  I wonder if Shaun would have been let off the hook as easily because settlement or not, people are starting to take a stand against sexual harassment, especially in a workplace setting.  The texts that Lena used as evidence could be interpreted in different ways, but in some of them, Shaun is clearly behaving as superior.  Therefore, even if they were “joking” as he claimed, it is still unethical conduct as he is in a position of power.

The exchange is reminiscent of the viral short story “Cat Person”, which highlights a power imbalance between a man and a woman.  Even though Shaun is not much older than Lena and doesn’t hurl misogynistic comments in the texts (she does accuse him of such overall however), he does threaten to send her home for wearing an unappealing outfit and expresses “disappointment” in her decision to keep her hair long.  It’s the kind of language that borders on abusive.

Is this the kind of person we want representing our country?  Okay, this may be the wrong question to ask given who our President is.  The Summer Olympics is currently marred by the horrendous cases of abuse from the U..S.A. Gymnastics team doctor and the silencing of his victims, which included members of the famous Fierce Five.  The U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association should be doing more to take a stand, especially since they seem to have no problem with pressuring Scotty Lago to leave after risque but consensual photos of him were taken.  Should we only care about the athletes’ behavior only during the Olympics?

The snowboarding community hasn’t had the greatest track record with sexual harassment.  Although female snowboarders are finally getting the respect from peers, there are still the little microaggressions that happen behind the scenes.  Recently in a Shredbots video, Red Gerard, another member of Team U.S.A., jokes about wanting a “big booty ‘ho” for Christmas.  While he may have been quoting a song, it’s still discouraging to hear that come out of his mouth.  This is the sort of “locker room” talk that leads to men not facing consequences for harassing (or even assaulting) women.  It’s fine to joke, but we can do it without treating women, or anyone else, like garbage.  We can do better Team U.S.A.  We should do better.

I spoke too soon about life not kicking me in the butt.  I still haven’t even watch all the X Games Oslo recaps I found, and now we’re less than a week away from Summer X.  Hopefully going to Austin will recharge me.  I’m also working on a writing plan in order to get back to regularly scheduled updates.  Unfortunately the photo editing program I’ve been using for years is no longer compatible with my current computer so there will still be some delay until I figure out whether my back-up program is enough.

In case you need to reacquaint yourself with action from this past winter, here are the links to my daily recaps: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I will be finished with adding all the non-X Aspen shots to my Flickr album so check it, along with my Youtube clips.  Now onto my picks for the best moments!

Best Female Athlete – Spencer O’Brien (Snowboard)
This gold has been a long-time coming for Spencer O’Brien.  She rode smoothly throughout the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle finals and had both technical tricks and big spins.

Best Male Athlete – Fabian Bösch (Ski)
Really all the competitors in Ski Big Air deserve mad props for delivering on a night that caused other events to be cut short.  Fabian Bosch didn’t let rookie jitters or the snow keep him from throwing down a triple.

Newcomer to Watch – tie between Kelly Sildaru (Ski) and Darcy Sharpe (Snowboard)
Obviously I have to mention Kelly Sildaru for killing it in Women’s Ski Slopestyle at the ripe young age of 13.  However, I also need to recognize Darcy Sharpe for throwing down the method as the first trick of Snowboard Big Air.  He knows what’s important, and he’s gonna go far. 

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski Superpipe
This had all the makings for a movie.  All eyes were on Gus Kenworthy, who achieved a personal best and led a good portion of the finals.  One last skier remained, Kevin Rolland, and he threw down a stellar run worthy of first.  Kevin himself seemed surprised, and to cap things off, his coach ran all the way down the massive halfpipe to congratulate him.

Best Trick – Joe Parsons’ Parsby flip
I saw this in person, and I still have trouble believe that it happened.  Pure nuttiness is what it was.  Just click here and see you for yourself.

Picture Perfect Moment – The road to gold isn’t always a breeze.
 photo wxg16-1_zpss9zsnepw.jpg
By Brent Lewis. From The Denver Post
The athletes often appear fearless and capable of everything.  Matt Ladley’s expression shows that isn’t always the case.  You can’t blame him with how bad the conditions were.  It’s a good reminder that all these amazing folks are still human.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Colten Moore reads Catching the Sky at a local bookstore.
I thought it was really cool for the Aspen community to meet one of its biggest stars, especially someone who’s most definitely not from town like Colten.  Although I was planning to get the book, listening to him talk about it made me want to read it even more.
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Most Educational Moment – Intel provides data on Big Air tricks
This was a nice treat for people who couldn’t watch in person (I was kind of jealous actually).  By providing information on spins and height, fans get a little more insight into how scoring works and friends who happen to be on the couch with us can get a little more snowboarding 101.

Greatest Comeback – Maddie Bowman (Ski)
After spending the off season in surgery, Maddie Bowman had only been in the pipe for a month before she grabbed her fourth X Games gold.  Moreover, she became the first woman to throw down a switch 900, a trick she only learned two days ago. 

Most Inspirational – Gus Kenworthy (Ski)
To all the critics who wondered why Gus Kenworthy needed to come out, his silver medals in Slopestyle and Superpipe are proof that it is important.  You could see that he’s been unburdened, finally able to express himself.  He also took the time to interact with fans after Slopestyle and on-line.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboard)
 photo wxg16-2_zpsyfqch0xs.jpg By Peter Foley. From First Tracks!!
Lindsey Jacobellis has been a name I’ve associated with gold since I started watching boardercross.  Her victory (by 0.041 seconds) makes her the most winningest female athlete in X history with ten victories.  Even though she has had some hard times, she always pushes througha true inspiration for girls everywhereand she looks like she isn’t slowing down any time soon. 

Congratulations again to all the winners!  As with my experience in Austin, I have even more respect for what these athletes do.  It was so hard to just see them sometimes, and you don’t get a sense of how big everything is until you’re right next to it.

day2-dad0336 Hey, this bench looks familiar.

Aspen was a ton of fun, but I’m not sure I’ll be back next year just due to costs and the possibility of getting snowed in again.  I wanna take time to plug the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, one of the places I visited during my extended stay.  What they do is really cool, and we have to remember that we have to protect the mountains.

Alright we’ve reached the end of my day-to-day recaps of X Games Aspen. I’m going to do my eXponential Awards review, and then we can finally move onto Oslo (and hopefully life won’t kick me in the butt again).  Sunday had non-stop snow again.  Visibility wasn’t as bad as Saturday, but the athletes still struggled and my mom refused to come out even during the day.
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I took this on the shuttle ride to Buttermilk since I’d never seen this much snow, not even when I lived in northern Japan.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle

  • Jossi Wells got a well-earned gold.  Like Spencer, he’s been at X for a while, but this is his first win here.
  • I think Jossi is younger than me, but they kept making him sound like an old man because he’s married with a dog.  His family actually brought the dog out.
  • I loved the little touches Bobby Brown put in his runs.  He did okay, and it seemed like he was ready to just head out.  However, he did stop to say “hi” to people and thank me when I complimented him.
  • Joss Christensen skied with a broken hand.  He usually uses poles so not having them was a little weird, according to him.  The awkwardness showed.
  • Our Olympians had a really rough time overall.  Then Gus Kenworthy put together a sick run on his third and final attempt.
  • For all the hate Gus got for coming out in a such a public way, he has helped freeskiing.  Not just with making it a more accepting place, but he’s brought in new fans.  He knows that responsibility comes with visibility because he took the time to greet fans and take photos.
    day4-dad0374 Gus was stoked on the flag.  Mission accomplished.
  • Also, for the bad rep that “fangirls” often get, they were super nice and encouraged me to get up to the front with them at the end so that Gus could see my rainbow flag.  Gus’ mom saw it first and gave me a thumbs up.  I’m glad he has such a supportive family (especially since I had kind of an awkward conversation with my parents about why I brought the rainbow flag).

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Saturday in Aspen was when the weather started to go south.  The early morning brought rain, which thankfully let up in time to go see Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle.  However, the slick conditions combined with overcast skies proved to be very tricky.

Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle

  • The course was super fast so everybody was messing up their first attempts.  Except Eric Willet and Sebastian Toutant, who threw down a banger of a run that would get him silver.
  • Darcy Sharpe and Sage Kotsenburg had the best rail section, but unfortunately they couldn’t land all their jumps.
  • Mark McMorris had some strategy going into his second run: taking some speed checks so he could stay in control.  It paid off because that second run was solid gold.
  • Apparently Darcy’s mom had a dream that he and his sister (freeskier Cassie Sharpe) got X Games invites before they actually got them.  She went ahead and booked a flight and hotel that morning, and she almost regretted it because of the cost.  His impression of her was adorable.
  • Newcomer Mons Røisland had some bobbles, but his huge jumps on his last run allowed him to sneak past Eric into third.
  • Mark’s third run was his victory lap, and he ended with a solid method.

After slopestyle, my parents and I went back to town.  I had read in the paper that Colten Moore was doing reading and signing of his new book, Catching the Sky, at Explore Booksellers and wanted to see him.  Ironically, he did an event in Dallas in February too, but Aspen was way more convenient for me.  His friend (manager?) said I should go to both, haha. I got him to sign my Texas flag and a copy of Catching the Sky.
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I’m really sorry for lagging on these updates.  Life has been throwing curveballs ever since I got back from Aspen; I wasn’t even able to watch all the replays before ESPN took them down.  In any case, Friday was the most jam-packed day so I hope to be back to posting more regularly.

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Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle

  • The bummer about seeing Slopestyle in person is that you only get a view of the money booter, and if you’re not press or VIP, you’re way in the back.  Also annoying kids on the ski lift above us liked to purposely shake snow off their boards onto our heads.
  • Despite this, I enjoyed the atmosphere.  Everyone rode well.
  • Hayley Langland’s rail game was on point.
  • Spencer O’Brien got a well-deserved gold.
  • Later in the afternoon, I wound up meeting Christy Prior at the Lifeproof booth, and she said it was a really great day to ride.
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I know I’m late on these, but I hope they’ll get you amped about X Games Oslo.  Being stuck in Aspen for a couple of days after the X Games was great… until I got back home.  I haven’t had much time to sit down and consider how these posts would differ from my Tumblr updates.  It’s going to mostly be the same, but I hope you stick around for the photos and some additional facts that I remember.

To preface this adventure, I’d like to give you some perspective.  If you’ve followed freestyle snowmobiling at Winter X, then you know about the Moore brothers.  They’re from Krum, which is an hour from where I am.  If you remember all those remarks about how they’re not used to the cold or the altitude, you can apply those to them.  North Texas gets snow a couple times a year, and it’s super flat.  Therefore I arrived in Aspen with some trepidation but much excitement.
day1-dad7637  Aspen Airport knew what was going on.

It turns out that Aspen in the day felt like Dallas without the wind chill.  The altitude proved to be a bigger issue.  That combined with my bad health and lack of sleep led to a headache that put me out of commission for most of Thursday.  However, I was able to participate in the Skype group chats with Sage Kotsenburg and Tom Wallisch.  Here’s what I learned (asterisks were answers to my questions): (more…)

In a few days, I’ll be in Aspen, but before I jet off, I want to make my predictions.  This year’s Dew Tour surprises made it harder for me to settle on a name.  Here’s what I’m going with:

Ski Big Air – Henrik Harlaut
Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Gus Kenworthy
Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Dara Howell
Men’s Ski Superpipe – David Wise
Women’s Ski Superpipe – Maddie Bowman
Snowboard Big Air – Yuki Kadono
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Ståle Sandbech
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Christy Prior
Men’s Snowboard Superpipe – Iouri Podladtchikov
Women’s Snowboard Superpipe – Chloe Kim

I won’t be doing another post until I get back, but I might just do some quick and dirty updates on my Tumblr or Twitter, depending on the internet situation.

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.