Posts Tagged ‘Winter X Games’

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.

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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.

I had another post to write, but with the X Games kicking off tomorrow, I wanted to make predictions for some of the events. It’s too fun to not do it. I’m also doing Fantasy Freeride League again (click here – it’s not too late to join).

Ski Big Air – Bobby Brown
Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Gus Kenworthy
Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Emma Dahlström
Men’s Ski Superpipe – David Wise
Women’s Ski Superpipe – Maddie Bowman
Snowboard Big Air – Yuki Kadono
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Mark McMorris
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Jamie Anderson
Men’s Snowboard Superpipe – Greg Bretz
Women’s Snowboard Superpipe – Chloe Kim

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/ESPN.com

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.
 photo travis-pastrana-double-backflip-xgames_zpsc0ba4b4a.jpg
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.

Could Winter X been any more dramatic this year?  As the final ski and snowboard event before the Olympics, there was a lot of anticipating, predicting, and wondering.  While the favorites tried to stake a claim on the gold, the underdogs and those who would have to wait another four years grabbed the opportunity to showcase their talent.  There was Shaun White’s “will he or won’t he” question of attendance and an on-line debate over spins versus style.  Above all, in a sport that probably will never see the Olympics, one man turned tragedy into triumph in a celebration of brotherly love, going big, and following your passion.

Best Female Athlete – Lindsey Jacobellis (Snowboard)
Although Kelly Clark deserves all the acclaim for being the winningest female athlete in the X Games, we cannot forget about Lindsey Jacobellis, who is now the female athlete with the most gold.  Her smart riding and consistency allowed her to obtain her eighth one in the Snowboard X finals and dominate the field, Olympics be damned.

Best Male Athlete – Tucker Hibbert (Snowmobile)

Speaking of dominance, no man has seven-peated at X until Tucker Hibbert crossed the SnoCross finish line.  He also has the most National wins so this really isn’t a surprise.  His hard work and discipline is as much to credit as his talent.

Newcomer to Watch – Chloe Kim (Snowboard)

You know an athlete is awesome when the only thing keeping her from the Olympics is her age.  Forget the Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano comparisons; Chloe Kim made a name for herself in the Women’s Superpipe with her high-flying, easy-going style.  The future of women’s snowboarding has arrived!

Most Dramatic Finals – Men’s Ski Slopestyle
The Men’s Ski Slopestyle finals had so many moments to remember: Andreas Hatveit’s X Games swang song, the first triple cork in an X Games ski slopestyle contest, and the first repeat winner in ten years.  On top of that, we had an excellent mix of style and spins, as well as proof by Nick Goepper that if at first you don’t succeed, do it better on your next run.

Best Trick – Danny Davis’s switch method (Snowboard)
XGAspen14-1 photo wxg14-2_zps7454d242.jpg
From Chris Wellhausen / Transworld Snowboarding
In an era where most riders spin to win, Danny Davis aired out a a huge switch method in the Men’s Superpipe finals.  While it might not look as fancy, the technical skill it required, along with the opportunity for self-expression, was exactly what propelled him to the top and what snowboarding needs to not forget.

Picture Perfect Moment – Mark McMorris receives his slopestyle silver medal from his mom.
Technically this is a video, and it’s not pro quality. However, the moment is too adorable to not recognize. Plus it’s nice to see Mark McMorris in good spirits after his gnarly crash.

Best Moment Outside Competition – the on-line Snowboard Big Air debate
Style versus math—what should count more?  When Halldor Helgason threw down a sick method, he made a statement and got people talking.  Add in some damning Tweets from pioneers like Pat Moore and Todd Richards, and it was clear that snowboarding is in need of some self-reflection and possibly a revolution (no pun intended).

Most Educational Moment – Jossi Wells show us how to land on your feet when things go awry. (Ski)
Big Air competitors are expected to wipe a lot.  Jossi Wells seemed to be immune to that, thanks to quick thinking  and physics.  The minute he knew the trick wasn’t going to work, he stretched out his arms and legs to slow down.  The increased air resistance bought him time to right himself and ski away.

Greatest Comeback – Kaya Turski (Ski)
Just four months after ACL surgery that involved a new technique, Kaya Turski came back to show why she is the top Women’s Ski Slopestyle competitor.  Her competitors, Maggie Voisin in particular, did not make it easy, but her mastery of the rails put her ahead of the back and on the road to Sochi gold.

Most Inspirational – Colten Moore (Snowmobile)

There was no a dry eye watching the Freestyle Snowmobile finals.  Colten Moore didn’t just come back from separating his pelvis; he returned after losing his brother in the same contest last year.  Some would walk away or at least take more time to recuperate physically and mentally, but Colten gave the ride of his life.  Regardless of your personal faith, it was obvious that Caleb was right there by his side.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Gretchen Bleiler (Snowboard)
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From Mahala Gaylord / The Denver Post
Gretchen Bleiler has been one of the most influential female snowboarders.  She’s the first woman to land a Crippler 540 and the first female action sports athlete to appear on the cover of the ESPN the Magazine.  Her visibility and enthusiasm helped the ladies of Superpipe get noticed, and her comeback from a horrifying eye injury is nothing short of miraculous.  Even though she won’t be on the X Games leaderboard, Gretchen’s influence will undoubtedly still be felt.

I’d like to conclude this wrap-up with my predictions for the Olympics, which has continued to change with the onslaught of injuries:
Snowboard Slopestyle – Max Parrot and Jamie Anderson
Snowboard Halfpipe – Iouri Podladtchikov and Kelly Clark
Ski Slopestyle – Nick Goepper and Kaya Turski
Ski Halfpipe – David Wise and Maddie Bowman