X Games 11: The Sack Wrap

by The Editors on January 29, 2007

Xgames WrapWe watched most of the Winter X Games 11 this year. Thanks to Time Warner Cable’s Moxie, we’d schedule the shows, recorded them, and then fast forward through the back-story interviews, profiles, and catch the pure action the way it was meant to be viewed: minus the advertising. After the jump: a little of what we thought.


Slopestyle
While watching Andreas Wiig spinning (with his “big in Norway” pop star girlfriend Marion Raven looking on) we found ourselves longing for a few more rails, a few more high consequence, high style features that would bring it back down to snowboarding rather than big hit, jock hucking. We like Travis Rice’s double-back, late 180 as much as the next person, but rails are just way more fun to watch.

Not that he won’t recover, but Shaun White (undeniably the best all-around snowboarder alive today) showed what happens when celebrity takes too big a bite out of an athlete’s life. It’s okay to take a season off to film, but it’s obvious that he can’t just drop in to a few select contests during the year and walk away with wins. Shaun’s season last year has made a lot of snowboarders hungry. And it was showing in the slopestyle.

Snowboarder X
Shaun Palmer charged it. Period. Think about it. He’s 38 years old, been through hell, and still can pull a hole-shot in the finals of X Games Snowboarder X and lead three-quarters of the way against what are called “the best snowboardcross racers in the world.” Either the rest of the field sucks, or he really is one of the greatest athletes of all time.

On the women’s side we had to laugh along with gold medalist Joanie Anderson, when Lindsey Jacobellis fell coming over the last knoll. Lindsey is an amazingly talented snowboarder, however, she is extremely entertaining fall fodder (when she doesn’t get hurt, that is).

Best Trick
Best trick? How about calling it what it was: big air. Which kind of sucked. Why didn’t the best trick competition include a rail as an option? Sure, it wouldn’t translate as well for television. And the viewers at home wouldn’t understand how a slow, technical rail trick could beat a 60 foot long quad spin, but it would have been much more entertaining for us. Truthfully, we didn’t even watch the final head-to-head comp. Who won?

The Superpipe
The winners of the superpipe competition were the judges. From what we could tell, the judges called this one perfectly. It would have been so easy for them to hand over the win to Shaun White. His runs were good, and his story was even better. But there were mistakes. And we don’t think his silver medal was a case of the Tony Hawk effect, where an athlete is so far superior to the competition that he begins getting judged against himself rather than that competition. Truth was Steve Fisher put down the single most perfect halfpipe run we’ve ever seen, and believe us, we’ve seen plenty. If this would have been a surf contest Fisher would have gotten a perfect 10 for that first run. There was very little to argue about and the judges stuck to it. The only question we had was on the score of Danny Kass’ second run. No disrespect to Mason Aguirre, or Kevin Pierce but we think Danny’s run was a close to Fisher’s as anyone got.

Sal’s Soliloquy
The loquacious one did a spectacular job of hosting the X Games. No one is as smooth, genuine, or real in their delivery. His interview with Travis Rice during the Big Air was one of the few times we laughed during the entire weekend (aside from the dogpile/water fights at the top of the pipe during qualifiers). So when the show came to a close and Sal dropped into his closing comments, we were saddened to hear what was basically an advertising pitch for the next X Games. Here are a few of the classics:

“It’s hard to deny that the gap between action sports and mainstream sports isn’t narrowing.”
“To these kids The X Games are as big as the Super Bowl.”
“It’s no longer Generation X, it’s the X Games generation.”

It was during the close that we realized once more that Sal earns his pay every step of the way. It’s not easy to get up on live television and talk for four days, it’s even more difficult to read ESPN’s self-serving ad copy with a gleam of sincerity in your eyes.

Final Thought ala Jerry Springer
It’s a bummer that the X Games are the only time we get to see action sports presented with full-budget TV productions. Snowboarding looks amazing when it’s followed by cable cams, huge cranes, live switching and 25 HD cameras. And from that stand point ESPN did an amazing job. We’ve never seen snowboarding like this. And for that we thank ESPN. We also are overly grateful to all the athletes, who lay their asses on the line so we can sit on ours and watch them of the big screen. Thanks.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

coach January 30, 2007 at 11:05 am

while double back flip 180’s are amazing and it’s nearly impossible to grasp, they are NOT snowboarding. they are gymnastics! i’d rather watch peter bauer carving.

craig January 30, 2007 at 1:08 pm

yeah dude

paul sez January 30, 2007 at 11:24 pm

bring back ice climbing!!!

Bonnier January 31, 2007 at 10:39 pm

wow. what a great story you have written. maybe we will buy this site too…

REDHEAT February 5, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Poor X-Games, I was there and it was………..Well, not so awsome. So crowded that we decided not to go on the final day because it was much better watching from the comfort of our couch at home. And the way they have it set up, especially for slopestyle, you are just standing in the crowded viewing area at the bottom watching the jumbo tron anyways. Our sport has grown so massively that the people who are actually part of this great activity have now become the minority. It was overrun by a bunch of gapers who couldn’t make it through a lift line without catching a toe edge. It’s fun to meet pro’s and see how amazing they are live but as for me, I’ll head to the mountains and watch am’s throw 450’s onto rails and kill jumps and just view the “games” from the comfort of my couch via tivo cause i was up on the hill all day.

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