An X-Games X-clusive with Rod Johnson and Barbie Waters

Hello, and welcome to the 1998 editorial coverage of E$PN’s Summer X-Games. I’m Rod Johnson.

And I’m Barbie Waters.

Together we’ll take you through the X-citing events in today’s X-treme shredfest. I’m here live atop Mount Dew in sunny San Diego overlooking fabulous Mission Bay, and Barb is standing by inside our cozy faux-log cabin/television studio. How are things looking from there, Barb?

Well, Rod, the action here has been X-hilerating so far, and who knew this chair made from skate decks would be so comfortable? I’d go so far as to call it PHat, with a capital PH.

Hah-hah. That’s X-actly what I was going to say about the competition, Barb. These young athletes are primed, flexed, and ready to shred the gnar.

Shred the gnar? What’s that, Rod?

Sounds like it’s time for an X-pression X-plained¿, where our staff of researchers post the wide-screen with catchy snowboard jargon. “Shred the gnar” means to get radical on a snowboard.

But before we get to the raw-jock action, let’s snap into a Slim Jim and break for a commercial.

This line of type was brought to you by our sponsors: The United States Marine Corps, and anyone else with tons of cash.

Okay, we’re back. Hold onto your Lazy-boys, America, because the women’s finals are about to begin!

That’s right, Rod, and at the top of the scaffolding is Tina Basich from Sacramento, California. Ooh, a 720 corkscrew. The judges have to be happy with that.

Wow, that’s X-traordinary, Barb. This is the best snowboarding money can buy …

Exciting it was: 520 tons of man-made snow covering a towering scaffolding the height of the Statue of Liberty with over 11,000 people below watching eighteen snowboarders transform themselves into stuntmen and women. And that’s exactly what transpired-a stunt show. They might as well have been jumping over school buses.

Eighteen twenty-ton trucks from a local San Diego ice company stormed the beaches of Mission Bay, California carrying 133 coffin-sized blocks of ice. First they ran the ice through the chippers, then the snow was distributed via hoses, and the result was better than anyone could have predicted-real snow in San Diego in June. (Well, as real as man can make, anyway.)

But back to the show.

Ten-grand was at stake for the twelve men, which came down to a four-way jump-off in the finals between Kevin Jones’ frontside spins, Ben Hinkley’s double frontflips, Jim Rippey’s Rippey flip (a 360 with a backflip), and Jason Borgstede’s big backflip tailgrabs. It was anyone’s contest. But soon the battleground narrowed to Jones and Hinkley. No stunts were as confident and clean as Hinkley’s large double front, which he stomped, waving his six guns all the way to the grassy runout. Only the judges were not fooled by the crowd’s overwhelming roars-they scored Jones higher for his frontside 900 landed fakie, a more technical trick. “I was just stoked to see that he got out of his room,” joked Jones of Hinkley’s performance (until recently Jones, Hinkley, and Rippey were all roommates). The Truckee trio finished one, two, and three, respectively.

What’s Jones gonna do with the 10,000 dollars?

“I’m gonna pay all my credit cards off,” he said, smiling, covering up the pain of a pre-X-isting back injury like a true champion.

For the women’s medal round, it came down to Janet Matthews, Tina Basich, and Tina Dixon, who even without a “jump off” were equally impressive. Janet Matthews, easily the crowd favorite with her big backflips, either went for the double or over-rotated-nobody’s sure which because she blew up. She did land smooth and large on her last attempt for the judges, earning a gold medal. And then there was Tina Basich, who attempted for her first time anywhere, a 720 corkscrew that put her in second behind Matthews-Basich has never been so inverted. Big, controlled frontside-three tailgrabs showed Salt Lake’s Tina Dixon third placee.

It was just another one of those kicker contests at the beach.

No big deal. Here one day, film at eleven. And still the mention of E$PN starts the average snowboarder whining. Well listen up one last time real good now: nobody owns snowboarding. E$PN doesn’t … but that network sure is renting it at the moment. But let’s face it: it’s never gonna be the same as a spontaneous session with friends. E$PN will never recreate first turns in fresh snow-they’ll never dream about pillow lines, or grasp the lifestyle, the desire, or even the sport as a whole. Next week those same cameramen will be in Hawaii filming windsurfing, or maybe in Indiana covering NASCAR.

So E$PN is goofy? Who really cares?

These E$PN junkets field wider coverage for these riders in a five-minute television segment than they receive all year. It’s not real snowboarding-hey, it’s not really snow. It’s just a good time for a big crowd on a Saturday in San Diego.