Summer X-Games

Another ESPN X-Games, another splattering of corporate logos and trendy culture, I don’t know what it is with modern culture. Why anyone would want to watch sky surfing and luge boarding at all, much less in the same day. I’m not sure where these sports came from–they must have been from the mind of some Ivy League marketing genius who determined this is what the youth market wants. Whoever is in charge must be nuts, because once again, included in the Summer X-Games is snowboarding. All of a sudden, sky surfing doesn’t sound so stupid. Anyway, the X-Games had it, and the crowd loved it. I guess those youth polls really do work (this must be how The Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync came to be). Well, I’m not having it. Snowboarding should stay where it belongs, on the snow. What’s next, street skating at the Iditarod? I can see it now, kickflips and sled dogs–now that’ll be extreme. But, snowboarding is where the advertising dollar is, so damn it there will be snowboarding at the Summer X-Games!

This year, as in the years past, the snowboarders jump off an enormous erector set, smothered in crushed ice. J2 told me that he heard they were going to get the ice for the jump from a fish-packing plant in San Francisco, and that the ice was going to smell like rotting fish. This put a smile on my face, picturing some unlucky soul burying his face into a salmon slushy. When I showed up I took a whiff of the artificial snow, but to no avail–I couldn’t detect any odor. Oh well, maybe the jump would collapse and take out all of the Rollerbladers.

The iceboard contest featured some of the top snowboarders of today, along with some questionable invited competitors, and an obvious lack of some of the most deserving snowboarders. The girl contest went off, as I suspected it would. Many backflips were thrown, to the crowd’s glee. Remember, being upside down is not normal, hence it’s extreme. Tara Dakides did the best backflips, holding onto them for the length of the flip. The other girls looked more like freestyle skiers and might as well hold ski poles the next time they go off a jump. Barrett Christy was the savior, performing a switch heel-catcher rodeo flip with a small hand drag, getting a well-deserved first place.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the undying loyalty of the crowd to Ben Hickley, which overshadowed all other aspects of the competition. I guess it’s a combination of Ben’s extreme backflips and his colorful braids, which all add up to one equation: Ben is extreme, and that is what the X-Games are all about. No matter what any other competitor did, Ben always had the crowd behind him. I saw a 250-pound bearded man wearing a tie-dyed Grateful Dead T-shirt screaming in Ben’s defense, doing all that he could to get the entire crowd behind Ben.

Luckily for the future of snowboarding, the judges were not as taken with Ben’s backflips as the crowd, and they gave first place to Peter Line, who without a doubt did the best trick of the event, an off-axis backside 720. After Peter was awarded first place, I saw the 250-pound hippie give Ben a big hug and start to cry as he scorned the X-Gods for a recount. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Winter X-Games

by Dave “still on tour” Sypniewski

Being at the X-Games was fun, but don’t feel left out if you only got to watch them on television–it’s probably the best way to experience them.

Thursday

I had to register for the Boarder-X. Signing up went quickly and they gave me a lot of dumb stuff, but hey, it was free so I took it. I found Jason McAlister and dumped my bags in his room. ESPN gives the “athletes” breakfast, neither of us had eaten yet, so off we went. Unfortunately, we were too late, but we ran into Will Gilmore ason’s team manager at Salomon.) He told us we could eat at the Red Bull Condo and gave us passes. I don’t think they were really into us at the condo “with wings,” but we raided the fridge and left to do a little riding.

There wasn’t too much snow in Crested Butte, so it didn’t break our hearts when we stopped “training” to watch the skiing big-air event. Those guys went off! The guy who won did a backward 720 that was pretty cool, but after seeing Johnny Mosely’s rodeo 720 thing, he was the man. I also liked bad-boy Brad Holmes’ and Josh Lubeck’s jumps. Kent Kreitler had the best wreck–if ABC ever ran another “agony of defeat” spot, his would be it. Thursday night was a quiet dinner with the Salomon dudes and computer time with McAlister, so I missed out on some serious partying. Rental cars were wrecked and then pummeled with rocks; food fights and police incidents were all the rage.

Friday

Dude, Boarder-X competitors there were serious–they train like jocks for this event. Being the “alternative” athlete that I am, I decided to prepare my mind a little before the race. Unfortunately, my plan failed and I lost. In the long run I still won. The course was just okay, not very technical. Lane choice was key in the heats–if you were on an outside lane you were going to lose. Terje, E-Tree, Jason Brown, Scott Gaffney, Flyn’ Ryan Neptune, and Ross Powers were the standouts. Palmer won, he also killed it in the skier-cross. He’s a true racing badass. I did participate in the parties. A late-night breakfast with Ford, Blattner, and McAlister rounded it out.

Saturday

Slopestyle. It could have been my hangover, or maybe it was just déjà vu; did Kevin Jones get robbed for a second year in a row? The snow finally started falling, making visibility low and the course slow, but everyone was still ripping. Jimmy Halopoff was killing it, B.J. Leines owned the tall rail, and Peter wasn’t too shabby, either.

The Sno-cross (snowmachine event) qualifier went down, and Palmer made it into the finals. Did I mention he’s a good racer? He make’s it look just too damn easy.

1-800-Collect was giving away five-minute calling cards, and there was more soda than anyone could drink. I like how there is free food for athletes everywhere, ’cause I love food. I loved it more last year when it was hot. Do you think that all the free snacks were the reason that the prize money was so low in all the events?

Sunday

The men’s halfpipe was held despite the super dumpy weather that caused the big air to be cancelled. I only watched for a little while; the pipe wasn’t very good, and I needed to find a ride to Denver. Jimi Scott won.

The X-Games should have a viewers’ poll on the pipe and slopestyle contests to see if everyone is on the same page. Was the judging wack or was it just me? I could be wrong, but Kevin should have won the slopestyle and Michalchuk should have won the pipe. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Todd Richards and Terje Haakonsen didn’t compete.

Monday

The big air event. I wasn’t there. I had left the night before with two viruses.

Winter Men’s Big-Air Final Results

Gold Kevin Sansalone

Silver Peter Line

Bronze Kevin Jones

Winter Women’s Big-Air Final Results

Gold Barret Christy

Silver Tara Dakides

Bronze Janet Matthews

Winter Men’s Slopestyle Final Results

Gold Peter Line

Silver Kevin Jones

Bronze Jimmy Halopoff

Winter Women’s Slopestyle Final Results

Gold Tara Dakides

Silver Barret Christy

Bronze Jamie MacLeod

Winter Boarder X Men’s Final Results

Gold Shaun Palmer

Silver Drew Neilson

Bronze Scott Gaffney

Winter Boarder X Women’s Final Results

Gold Maelle Ricker

Silver Leslee Olson

Bronze Candice Drouin

Winter Halfpipe Men’s Final Results

Gold Jimi Scott

Silver Mike Michalchuk

Bronze Luke Wynen

Winter Halfpipe Women’s Final Results

Gold Michele Taggart

Silver Shannon Dunn

Bronze Cara-Beth Burnside

Summer Big-Air Men’s Final Results

Gold Peter Line

Silver Ben Hinkley

Bronze Chris Engelsman

Summer Big-Air Women’s Final Results

Gold Barrett Christy

Silver Tina Dixon

Bronze Janet Matthews

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Gold Tara Dakides

Silver Barret Christy

Bronze Jamie MacLeod

Winter Boarder X Men’s Final Results

Gold Shaun Palmer

Silver Drew Neilson

Bronze Scott Gaffney

Winter Boarder X Women’s Final Results

Gold Maelle Ricker

Silver Leslee Olson

Bronze Candice Drouin

Winter Halfpipe Men’s Final Results

Gold Jimi Scott

Silver Mike Michalchuk

Bronze Luke Wynen

Winter Halfpipe Women’s Final Results

Gold Michele Taggart

Silver Shannon Dunn

Bronze Cara-Beth Burnside

Summer Big-Air Men’s Final Results

Gold Peter Line

Silver Ben Hinkley

Bronze Chris Engelsman

Summer Big-Air Women’s Final Results

Gold Barrett Christy

Silver Tina Dixon

Bronze Janet Matthews