Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Last month, I was super stoked to see Yiwei Zhang take second place in Men’s Snowboard Superpipe at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships. More and more Asian riders are making their way into big contests, and that is fantastic. However, I get a sense of dread in seeing them on TV because there is a high possibility that their names will get butchered. This is something that frustrates me immensely especially when you have someone like Xuetong Cai who has been competing for five years and still has ESPN and NBC confusing her last name for her first name.

That’s just unacceptable. Therefore I have decided to create a pronunciation guide for some well-known Chinese and Japanese snowboarders.  Some sounds don’t translate well into English, but I’ve tried my best to approximate (with links on two difficult syllables).  For more information on how to pronounce Japanese and Mandarin correctly, please check out these pages: So You Want to Learn Japanese? and Yabla Chinese – Pinyin Chart.  NOTE: I’m writing first name, then last.

Japanese male snowboarders

  • Ayumu Hirano = Eye-yoo-moo Hee-rah-no
  • Kazuhiro Kokubo = Kah-zoo-hee-row Koh-koo-boh
  • Kohei Kudo = Koh-hey Koo-doh
  • Ryo Aono = Ree-oh Ah-oh-no
  • Taku Hiraoka = Tah-koo Hee-rah-oh-kah
  • Yuki Kadono = Yoo-kee Kah-doh-no

Japanese female snowboarders

  • Miyabi Onitsuka = Mee-yah-bee Oh-nee-tsu-kah
  • Yuka Fujimori = Yoo-kah Foo-gee-mo-ree

Chinese male snowboaders

  • Yiwei Zhang = Yee-way Zahng

Chinese female snowboarders

  • Shuang Li = Swahng Lee
  • Xuetong Cai = Shue-tohng Tsai
  • Zhifeng Sun = Zh-fung Swen

If you’re still lost, I created a video.  I’m hoping this will give people a better idea of how to say these snowboaders’ names.  After all, we do our best to learn European names so the same diligence should be applied to Asian riders.

Last month, World of X Games aired a special all about female action sports athletes.  It was so refreshing.  As of late, the X Games has started to give women the coverage they deserve. . .  finally.  It was so disheartening to see women’s events diminish throughout the years, and it hurts when my highlights mostly feature men (I think that’s why I started to pay more attention to the winter sports).  There is hope though.  In addition to the “Women of Action” episode, X Games held a Real Women contest to highlight the athletes who for one reason or another, don’t participate in X.  On top of that, female BMX riders were invited to hit the course during one of the practice sessions.

However, we can hope all we want, and that doesn’t change the harsh reality.  The on-line “Women of Action” series speaks of a glass ceiling that is found in any male-dominated field, be it science or skating.  Then there’s the shameful state of women’s motocross about which I’m glad the TV episode covered.  There are many opinions about the issue, but something is wrong when top riders like Ashley Fiolek and Jessica Patterson are dropped by their sponsors because the series promoter has decided to cut pro racing for women.  We’ve seen this before, like when Cara-Beth Burnside was dropped by the company that helped her become the first female skater to have her own shoe.  Vans won’t even deign to put her on their Legends team despite how much she’s done for the sport, and they’re losing a portion of their customers because of it—and the fact that their designs for women’s shoes have become more stereotypically feminine (we’ll discuss this in part 2).

Speaking of skate legends, check out this TED Talk by Cindy Whitehead.

She highlights the day-to-day issues that women—hobbyists, amateurs, pros, and legends alike—face in doing what they love.  The hateful comments and skepticism are what pushed me away from the scene.  To this day, I feel self-conscious going to local events.  Sexism happens on multiple levels, and it’s so ingrained that the action sports community has to make a hard effort to fight it.  Otherwise it will destroy the potential that the sports have to grow while depriving girls of something wonderful.

We’ve seen women ride with the men: Peggy Oki, Fabiola da Silva, Vicki Golden, and Emma Gilmour to name a few.  They make the case for an elimination of gendered events, but here’s the problem: sexism is systemic.  Male athletes get the coverage and sponsors because they are still the main demographic of action sports fans.  As Cindy mentioned, people automatically assume that an action sports athlete is a man.  The stereotypes are that ingrained in our minds, as is the idea that women are physically less capable than men.

In the “Glass Ceiling” article, ESPN asks James Riordon if size and strength really affect how much air you get and how many spins you do.  His answer: “The discrepancy in upper-body strength isn’t enough to hinder spinning. What it comes down to is there is no physics-based reason why men and women aren’t at the same level, at least not at the top level of the sport.”  Maybe there are other physicists who want to refute his statement, but snowboard Kelly Clark, in the same piece, brings up Chloe Kim who evokes comparisons to a young Shaun White.

It is through snowboarding that we see what happens when women are given the chance to show their stuff.  The Olympics have really helped with giving them more exposure, and as a result, other events have to follow suit.  That leads to increase opportunities, which allows the women push themselves further.  Perhaps the brightest beacon comes with Elena Hight’s double backside alley-oop rodeo, the first for a woman or a man and top voted moment in the history of X.
It seems that enough people out there know what a good thing is when they see it, and I’ll hang onto that hope.

Remember my post about pro BMX riders Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla and Zach “Catfish” Yankush teaming up with Japanese fashion blogger La Carmina? It was for their new show Strangers in Danger, and the spooky cute author and her friends had quite the adventure in store for the daredevil duo. Check out the clip below:

Saline inflation is a form of extreme body modification that has taken off in the Tokyo underground recently. A saline drip is set up, and the needle is placed inserted under the skin. To learn more, check out this article from Bizarre Magazine.

Catfish and Rooftop also got to experiencing drifting and sumo wrestling while in Japan.

From the Strangers in Danger website

Strangers in Danger pushes these crazy bikers to their limits and beyond. You get to see what makes them cringe, shrink in fear, and curse in pain (since imposing ramps and hard crashes on a bike don’t seem to do the trick). Catch the show Tuesdays at 10:30 PM Eastern on Fuel TV, or check out the full episode on the website.

I used to get so irritated when a stereotype of a skater or any other extreme sports athlete appears on TV and in movies and starts spouting an unnecessary amount of slang. It’s horribly misleading, and I had an embarrassing n00b phase because my introduction to the subculture came from the caricatures on TV and that’s how I thought action sports enthusiasts speak. However, now I just laugh (and to be fair, I’ve seen the stereotype work in some depictions, like Crush in Finding Nemo… though he’s a turtle). Do people really think our slang is like a foreign language?

This whole post was inspired by my revisiting the old vampire TV series (old meaning from a time before vamps were cool and cliché… like extreme sports, I was into vampires before the mainstream embraced them) called Blood Ties. In “Blood Price, Part 2”, a skateboarder is being questioned by the cops. The over-the-top usage slang here is clearly for comedic effects as the cops ask him to repeat what he said in layman’s terms. I find it funny because he’s raving about “sweet backside airs” (maybe they were) and using “thrashed” twice for no good reason. The amount of slang they cram in 10 seconds is hilarious. You can check out the clip here: starting at 3:28.

I was curious about whether the skater was an actor or a pro. He’s an actor named Levi James, and he’s starred in another extreme sports-related role. In the soap opera Falcon Beach, he played a pro wakeboarder named Travis Rudnicki. I’ve never seen the series, but it looks like there was quite of a bit of wakeboarding, as one of the main characters did it competitively.

BMX action on Glee

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Nerd Stuff
Tags: , , , ,

The post-Super Bowl episode of Glee had an eye-catching opener, and I’m not talking about the cheerleaders shaking their booties in blue wigs, bikini tops, and pyrotechnic bras. I’m talking X-ups, tailwhips, backflips, and a slew of flatland tricks up front from Terry Adams. Check out the clip for yourself.

The use of BMXers in a Cheerios routine surprised me. I always figured that if action sports were going to be featured on Glee, it would be alongside the unpopular “Gleeks” instead of the mean girl cheerleading squad. Then again, one of the Cheerios, Brittany Pierce, mentioned having motocross practice in a previous episode (I hope the show this in the future).

For those of you who don’t follow flatland BMX, Terry Adams is the name to know. He won gold in the 2005 Asian X Games and has appeared on Ellen and Master of Champions. The Louisiana native also invented a crazy move called the Katrina, pictured below. It involves him jumping over the frame of the bike while balancing on the front wheel.
(Photo by Kevin McAvoy, RedBull photofiles)

Terry had some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits on the filming of the Glee scene. He also reveals that he started watching the show after getting his role and that his favorite character is Brittany. There are two versions of the interview: and Terry’s answers are the same, but the questions are different, which I find very odd.

Another odd thing related to this Glee episode is that there was a casting call for female BMXers, and yet I didn’t see any girls riding. Do you?

Listening to: “Push the Limits” by Enigma