Posts Tagged ‘X Games’

Could X-Games Technologists Blind Us With Science, Risking a Troublesome Singularity (And Humankind’s Extinction)?

June 12, 2016

In an age when Nyjah Huston walks back gender-insensitive comments, where male nudity is a feature and not a bug within one of the top recent videos, where online used goods bazaars place frothy premiums on Alex Olson’s ‘Lover’ gear while Flip’s ‘Hate Kill Destroy’ slogan is relegated to a vintage acronym, and where crust-merchants Jake Phelps and Grant Taylor close an interview by sharing their mutual love, it is fair to regard skateboarding as residing within a more sensitive place. Whether the metaphorical pendulum has careened too far away from ganging up on a dude with a drill and harassing RuPaul is a question best left to international criminal tribunals and/or the Sabotage dudes.

Which elixir could restore the balance? ESPN proffers one brewed with the cold, unfeeling logic of pure machinery. In an example of the synergistic genius that may have lured data-mining soothsayer Nate Silver from the cold-shouldery NYTimes to ESPN, the X-Games recently gave his FiveThirtyEight media web site access to a new device being tested within the increasingly embattled X-Games universe that bids to inject empirical data points into the scoring regimens, training programmes and wily banter of colourful commentators.

This Intel-developed transceiver pod, dubbed Curie after the mythological radioactive monsters, measures speed, height, spin velocity and other extreme metrics. Its powers appear handy for geometricized pit crews as they calculate roll-in height lumber purchases and the required torque speed to achieve the spins and twists necessary to bring home sweet, juicy X-Game gold, a rare earth mineral rumored to be worth its weight in gold. The device’s immediate value-add is harder to envision for the street skating discipline, however, where calibrating push strength toward rainbowy contest rails and formulating precise back-leaning to avoid sticking on ledges may deliver only incremental improvements.

But the invention may hold the potential to usher in a new and camera-ready discipline with nearly as much drama, intrigue and catastrophic injury potential as the Mega RampTM. The Curie’s ability to rapidly graph speed and trajectories could allow construction of precision-designed pyramids, quarterpipes and other obstacles able to be skated consistently without pushing, or indeed, looking — opening the way for a blindfolded best trick competition hinging solely upon instinctual foot placement, flick and catch, in the grand tradition of New York street shaman Billy Rohan.

Given his propensity for combining gnarliness with vulnerability and his captainship of Blind Skateboards, is Bill Weiss some type of cosmic shoe-in for such an event? Would Alexis Sablone’s King of the Road tenure give her an edge over a decade later? Will advancing technology eventually make such Curies small enough to embed into skateboarders’ skulls, saturating the gene pool even as humans go to war against self-aware artificial intelligence systems that assign low scores and occasional executions in response to shortcakes handrails and tic-tac’d landings?

Stardate 91361.54: When Shit Got Real In Foz Do Iguacu And Several Other International Locales

October 3, 2013

shutdown

In a true parable of our times, ESPN and the X-Games determined earlier today to slice four international stops from the great vert ramp routine that is the expanded X-Games contest season. After nobly floating ramps in overseas locales to the ticklement of foreign-born action sportsters, the X-Games chickens shall come home to roost in the U.S., just as the world’s largest economy writhes in the throes of a national budgetary impasse and considers chicken-counting of a different sort altogether.

“[T]he overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path,” ESPN said in a statement.

X-Games’ 18-month sojourn abroad, cut short by those unyielding mistresses Dollar and Cents, is a cautionary tale that saw certain ESPN officials subtly ringing alarm bells months ago. Internet website Dead Spin.com last April disclosed an ESPN memo regarding the Brazilian event that characterized the international push’s path to financial success as “extremely” difficult, employing language designed to resonate with network loyalists who brought the world the first ever YOLO flip on a snowboard, Gymkhana GRID and a previous 50-Cent concert.

As per the alleged memo:
Hourly folks – don’t push the OT. If it’s 9:10, take the 9:00 out – don’t push for 9:30. Heck, maybe you’d like to actually contribute an hour or two of your OT to the cause and take a 7:00 out. Trust me – no one’s going to the bank on this one. If this idea appeals to anyone, we can start an honorary wall of contributors in the office.

Were the international X-Games sunk due to the freewheeling and spendthrift ways of folks unable to look beyond the next hour of OT? Did revenues, already under pressure as Brazil succumbs to the twin maladies of soccer and Olympic fever, dribble away like so many bottles of water stuffed into worksite-bound backpacks? Will a failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and subsequent dents to the American sovereign credit rating further crunch the performance of the remaining domestic X-Games? Would Bastien Salabanzi have “shut it down” at the French stop and potentially replicated the YOLO flip for a skateboard audience?

Title TK

June 22, 2011

Even without flipping it over and looking for the little logo you could probably tell skateboarding bears a “made in America” seal just because of the tendency towards overkill. Big pants/small wheels, goofy boys, paint-on pants, substance abuse, stair counts, ledge combos, the personas of Alva, Muska, Mike Plumb, et cetera. The mega ramp. You have your top dogs specific to a certain latitude/longitude as the pendulum swings this way or that, for instance Ron Knigge or Josh Kasper or Ray Underhill, and then what turn out to be the more longview types that might rise up during one era or another but don’t wind up being defined by it and find ways to roll with whatever’s going at the moment, say Carroll, Daewon Song, Jason Dill, Grant Taylor — Mark Gonzales. Like, there may be more technically skilled or bigger-balled dudes going at any one point, but if you’re watching “the Storm,” you’ve got Jerry Hsu on one hand and Scott Paezelt on another.

All of which is a typically long-winded way of coping with a melting of mind following a couple watches of Eli Reed’s entry in the X-Games “real street” competition, a minute-long clip that’s a little gratuitous as far as including a couple magazine cover clips and some of the more original (versus “creative”) tricks to come along in a good while. If I was, heaven forfend, a judge on “America’s Next Top Flow Bro” I would formulate some sound bite to the effect that Eli Reed has a “point of view.” Like, who’s doing nollie bonelesses on name hubbas? Switch backside 360 manual? I’m sure there are some “Forecast” seeds that have pulled similar 360-flip nosegrinds and switch bigspin flips but a key difference is that this dude’s method has that appealing stink on it. Switch k-grind for the 90s dudes and wise use of the big switch ollie, which also helped get me onboard with Mikey Taylor during the City Stars days. A minute long and this is easily one of the best sections all year, I hope he gets the $50k or whatever it is.

Flight of the Passion Fruit

August 2, 2009

lizard_mega
And thus we complete the mainstream print media triumvariate

A suspect quesadilla prompted a longer-than-anticipated sit-down this afternoon, in which an errant copy of “Outside” magazine was flipped through, uncovering a pretty in-depth profile on hemp farmer and Mega Ramp LLC co-owner Bob Burnquist who is described at one point as “prone to stoner speechifying about ‘fluidic rhythms.'” (Aren’t we all.) It’s a pretty by-the-numbers rundown of the Bob’s life and times as an X-Games superhero, multiple family man and amateur pilot but at one point they’re cooling out at the rancho and things take a turn for the surreal* when a certain Utahn comes scritch-scritch-scratching at his rancho door:

While I’m at the rancho, Bob’s friend and fellow pro Pierre-Luc Gagnon, or PLG, pops by with some fresh meat: a street skater known as Lizard King (Mike Plumb to his relatives), who’s wiry and abundantly tattooed, with a rapsy smoker’s voice and the bug eyes of a man who gets amped for a living.

Bob greets them in the driveway and tells PLG to take Lizard out to the ramp “just to see what he’s getting into.”

Minutes later, Lizard King comes back looking as if he’s seen a ghost. He can’t stop pacing. “I’m not even over there looking at it and I’m having a heart attack,” he says.

Bob plays the confident older brother, goosing the Lizard up, onto and eventually down the mega-slope.

Lizard King snatches a bag of pads from PLG’s Mercedes and comes back. “I’ve never been more intimidated by anything in my entire life,” he says, then exhales deeply.

“I wanna get you psyched,” Bob says. “I’ll go out there with you.”

Bob shows Plumb how to bail the jump and then does it sans pads.

Lizard King practically collapses. Here he is, terrified, and Bob has casually dropped in as if this were a backyard pool, wearing nothing but jeans and a T-shirt.

“Fuck it, dude,” Lizard yells, rolling toward the edge. “Live life.”

His first attempt isn’t pretty, but he has gusto. There are many whoops and hollers and “Holy shits!” as he rockets down the roll-in, up the launch, and through the air, dropping his board and flying along like someone leaping off a bridge into a lake. He lands awkwardly but safely on his knee pads and slides to the base of the quarterpipe.

“I love you, Bob!” he howls as Bob and I walk back toward the house. “This is the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life! Thank you for building this!”

About an hour later, Bob’s phone buzzes. It’s a text from PLG: Lizard nailed it. “He’s got the right mentality,” Bob says. “Or the wrong one, depending how you look at it.”

Elsewhere there’s something of an “Xtremely Sorry” preview, which Bob Burnquist is apparently obsessing over “because (video parts) maintain his credibility in the skate world, which might otherwise regard him as a stunt guy who cashes in at the X Games once a year and then retreats to his ranch to roll around in flaxseed.”

In one sequence, he launches across the 50-foot gap, lands on the manual pad, kickflips his board 180 degrees while going 50 miles per hour, then drops in toward the quarterpipe – all without breaking rhythm.

So, what… manual backside flip? Frontside flip? Or just a “180 flip” into the landing from the manual pad? Meanwhile Bob’s organic restaurant has closed its doors, FYI.

*At least, surreal for those of us for whom Lizard King and “Outside” magazine exist in separate, non-overlapping worlds

Why Birdhouse Desperately Needs Nyjah Huston

December 8, 2008


Not to put too fine a point on it

In news that may be a ghost of bummers yet to come for Element’s current patchouli-scented incarnation, Mike V’s favorite Billabong subsidiary announced this weekend that 14-year-old Jah aficionado Nyjah Huston has either died, or else no longer shares the widely held “Element For Life” view, for reasons of his own. Those reasons could very well be tied to the American dollar; despite current weakness in Australian’s version of the greenback (a good thing), Element’s pater familias continues to grapple with the same bear that’s biting into Pacific Sunwear sales and claiming warehouse jobs.

All of this, or none of this, may have to do with Nyjah being out of his element (heh) and entertaining offers. And ignoring the very possibly totally for sure logic that he will end up at Plan B, due to existing Syndrome ties through Silver and FKD as well as Danny and Colin’s ongoing crusade to lock up superhero talent, checkbook be damned… I would like to make the unsolicited argument as to why Tony Hawk seriously needs to step in and put Nyjah Huston on Birdhouse.

1. Tony Hawk understands the child star
Hated on for much of the 80s, Tony Hawk possibly understands what Ryan Sheckler is dealing with right now, beloved by the secular world and despised by people who, you know, actually skateboard. Nyjah Huston, being five years younger and about 50 times more talented than Ryan Sheckler, is a kid Hawk could (heh heh) take under his wing and (fuck it) teach to soar in both the real skateboard world and whatever market exists outside of it when the recessionary dust settles.

2. The Shaun White experiment has failed
Half the kids who skateboard don’t know who the Flying Tomato is, the other half think he’s a retard, nobody considers him a for real pro skateboarder and the leopard-print tights aren’t helping anybody. Birdhouse long ago cast its lot with the cartoon graphic-fixated tween demographic, and with Tony Hawk in the announcer booth instead of the winner’s podium at the X-Games or Gravity Games or whatever, the company needs fresh star power to move those re-screened Brian Sumner decks.

3. Revenge
Self-explanatory. Scooping up Element’s treasured prodigy would slake the Birdman’s thirst for vengeance after Element appropriated his own protege, race car driver and projectile pooper Bucky Lasek.

4. Birdhouse has the money
Or maybe they don’t, but while pro paychecks get delayed at your favorite deck purveyor, Tony Hawk likely continues to sleep upon a sizable pile of cash with any number of beautiful women. Since bringing Birdhouse under the illustrious Tony Hawk Inc. power umbrella, the proprietor has stated that “increased oversight and involvement” in the team will be his highest priority. This would give him the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is bills where his bill is.*

5. Birdhouse needs a power move
Putting Nyjah Huston on would remind people that A. Birdhouse exists, B. they give a shit and C. that they want a seat at the table as far as high-profile team maneuverings (no disrespect to Nesser, Ploesser, Willy Santos et al). It would also suggest that the company has some sort of longterm plan for the future aside from Riley Hawk and selling repro’d Hawk graphics, which, if you read Sean Eaton’s interview in TSM recently, doesn’t seem especially certain.

TSM: You look at Birdhouse as a big mistake?
SE: I personally do, yeah.

Was it disheartening to see Tom Green and Shaun White go pro before you?
Dude, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

Now, bear in mind that this whole posting carries the major disclaimer of relying upon my own questionable judgment and intelligence, as I prepare to fully fail Nate Sherwood’s “skate IQ” test. Stay tuned as I report back the assuredly depressing results.

*That was awesome

This is skateboarding 2008

August 3, 2008

And to think if you would have asked me 10 years ago what the highlight of the X Games 2008 would be, I never would have guessed. Funny how things work out eh?