Monday, January 28, 2008

Winter X 12 - Dumont gets hosed again

I guess it’s officially day one here at base camp in Phoenix. Nothing too exciting to report just some more press conferences and what not today. Check out for video and audio from all the press conferences, including tomorrow’s media day.

Since it’s a pretty low-key day I think I’m going to take some time to talk about Winter X Games 12. Clearly I am no X Games expert but I’ve been watching winter x for 12 years now so why not chime in again. After all a year ago when I started this site I spent some a couple of days talking about modified shovel racing and snowboard super pipe.

To be honest I really haven’t been able to catch that much of the action from Aspen with getting ready to travel to ‘zona but I did watch the first night from the Speed and Style snowmobile competition to the marquee event in my eyes, skiing super pipe.

Let’s start with the snowmobile style and speed. That is a bizarre crossbreed of competitions but I must say it’s pretty cool. It brings you both worlds or tricks and racing and it’s much shorter than sitting through the 15 lap (or however long) final of snowcross, which for some reason they always pair with super pipe.

The pluses of this style and speed event are pretty cool. For example the riders have to be pretty versatile, they have to be able to race but throw sick tricks at the same time. The dual use course makes it pretty fun to watch to be honest with you and the fact that one guy is chucking a back flip makes it a lot more exciting than the NASCAR-ness of Snocross.

Let’s face it, even though we all pointed and laughed at Lindsey Jacobellis when she tried to sneak in a method at the end of her Olympic run and ate it that’s really one of the entertaining things about the X Games. Not that I want to see someone get hurt but its that potential for disaster or to be completely awed that draws people in.

I don’t know how you attempt a back flip on a snowmobile or a 1260 for the first time. I do know how you hurl yourself down a racecourse with five other guys in skier-cross because I’ve done that before and let me tell you there is a definite sense of disaster in skier and bordercross. Which again makes it really fun to watch. Every turn you jump I find myself watching in wide-eyed horror.

Here is my one issue with the new style and speed snowmobile event: The back flip. It’s like a double-edged sword. It’s an incredible trick to be able to do on a snowmobile but if you don’t have it in your arsenal you’re S.O.L. Watching the event I don’t think anyone that didn’t throw a back flip advanced.

There are some other unreal tricks but the back flip is like a trump card and a membership card. It trumps all the other tricks but at the same time if you can’t do it you aren’t getting into the club. Which in my opinion kind of hurts the event as a whole and limits the creativity of some of the riders – that in true could potentially hinter the progression of the sport as a whole. Same thing happened a few years ago in motocross. No matter what if a guy wants to advance he knows he has to build one back flip into his run, which can make things a little stale if every guy is opening his run with a back flip. It’s not a trick that can be done on smaller jumps either so it has to be preformed on one of the big booters. Those are usually located in the early stretches of the courses. Just my two cents on a sport I know very little about, but again I’m fan.

On to the marquee event, in my opinion, skiing super pipe – Once again Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont, everyone else is just trying for the bronze. Tanner Hall, who is becoming increasingly less likeable with the way he mixes psuedo-urban and skate culture dialects and has this weird air about him that just rubs me the wrong way. Of course I give him all the credit in the world for coming back from two shattered ankles.

Dumont is, of course, my favorite. Born out of the fact that Reynolds knows him and went to high school with him and we’ve been following him for the last five X Games but I think there is a lot to be said for his amplitude. 21 feet out of the pipe on a night were it is slow because of the snowfall, that’s insane.

He goes bigger than anyone else and in my opinion amplitude is one of the hearts of action sports. On the other hand, so is innovation and Tanner Hall does that pretty well too. In the end I think Dumont got jobbed again but I’ll give Tanner credit because he had more hits and like he said at the end of the night he threw in spins both ways. However when you factor in everything, the amplitude, the fact that Simon stepped up on his final run when he needed too and he had the crowd fully behind him, I think he got hosed.

I don’t mean to sound bitter but the last two years it kind of seemed like the judges gave Hall a bonus point or two because he was skiing for injured friends like last year or he was going for his third straight gold and all time record seventh winter X gold.

The guys is good, don’t get me wrong – but Dumont could have taken anyone of those last two gold medals and no one would have blinked, that’s how close these two guys are. They have taking half pipe skiing to completely new levels and looking back it’s really incredible how far it’s come. With the progress that these to have made in lifting the competition it’s no stretch to think half pipe skiing will make it’s Olympic debut in the near future.

Look at what happened with snowboarding. Half pipe was laughed at as an Olympic sport at first but most people would rather watch Shaun White throw 1080’s than pudgy Canadian dudes curling. Not that there is anything wrong with Canadians (except for their beady little eyes and flappy heads).

On a side note remember 1080 Snowboarding for Nintendo 64? Not that is was a good game or a bad game or anything, it was fun – Not quite Cool Borders or anything but a decent enough game. I bring it up because when 1080 came out the 1080-degree spin was a videogame trick. Like the tricks in Tony Hawk, some of them are real but for the most part it’s all fantasy. The 1080 was like that when that game came out, now 1080 is a standard big trick in snowboarding and skiers are throwing 1080’s and 1260’s. I’d say action sports are progressing pretty well.

Ok that’s my two cents on action sports. Now my goal for Super Bowl week is to have one story that will at least pique Reynolds’ interest after his run in with Mary Kate Olsen and his calling Lil’ John a pussy and drinking a shot he couldn’t take while at Sundance. That’s probably setting the bar a little it high though.

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