Winter X-Games 2001: The X-perience

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By Jason Loughnane a.k.a. The Red Guardian

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jay Loughnane is a writer for He once wrote me a nasty letter once about an article I wrote about last year’s X Games, which garnered quite a response from Yo Beat’s huge public. Always one to welcome work I don’t have to do myself, when he offered to write this year’s X Games story, I was quick to accept. So here it is, enjoy, because this is real extreme sports journalism.

Day 1:

I woke up early and headed over to the media yurt to pick up my press pass. After smuggling a few Pepsis courtesy of ESPN out of the media tent, I rode Mount Snow’s beginner park in the morning. The expert park, Inferno, was closed due to that whole Boardercross thing taking place on it that afternoon. On the main mountain, Skiing Big Air was going down Thursday afternoon. Now call me a sellout, but I chose to watch Ski big air instead of Boardercross that afternoon. I may have forsaken my snowboarding brothers, but the skiers were really going off. 16 year old Tanner Hall won the comp with a switch rodeo 720 tailgrab to fakie. Evan Raps was bitching to no end when Mike Nick took the first place spot from him about midway through the competition. “Its corruption up there. I’m throwing the best moves I can, and that guy is winning the comp cause he’s riding 140’s.” Mike Nick, former 90 cm skiboarder, was riding by far the shortest skis out of the group. However, the ends justified the means for Raps, who ended up taking the silver. C.R. Johnson finished in third. I watched the BoarderX on TV and it wasn’t too great. The big rivalry hyped up between Drew Neilsen and Shaun Palmer was ruined when neither of them even made it to the finals. Scott Gaffney won the men’s and Line Oestevold, who took Bronze last year, won the women’s gold.

Day 2:

Big pow dump last night. We rode park all morning, landing on soft pow with free tickets on our jackets. That afternoon, both Slopestyle and Skier X were taking place. After the X-tremely (ha) tough decision not to watch the worst event of weekend, I headed over to the top of the Slopestyle course to grab some interviews and talk to the riders. Gian Simmen is a pretty cool guy. When I asked him, a French-Canadian who speaks English as a second language, to describe the X-Games experience in one word, he at first freaked out, but gave me a simple “Cool” to get me off his back. Kevin Jones told me he was going to “kick it like a chicken” down the course. He ended up winning after a 450 to BS boardslide to 270 off on the kinked rail at the top of the course. One of the judges actually gave me the inside scoop on the criteria and told me that when people’s teeth hit the rail, they take off points. That judge gave KJ a 97 for his section of the run. I think Shaun White has the most nicknames of any athlete in the games, “Future-Boy,” “Egg,” “Height-White,” “Flight-White,” and my personal favorite “Proof that even if you have to drop out of high school cause of too many absences, you can still be the most famous 14 year old professional snowboarder.” FYI: Tara Dakides also dropped out of high school. It seems that is a sure thing to being a pro boarder. Peter Line was at the top of the course doing interviews for ESPN. I guess its hard not to sellout when you break your elbow and can’t compete. Jamie MacLeod won for the Women.

Day 3:

Superpipe. Last year, Todd Richards and Ross Powers battled it out for the top spots. Forget corruption in the Skier Big Air, Mike Michalchuk hands-down deserved the gold medal. His first hit frontside air was the definitive biggest air of the competition, his Michalchuk was executed perfectly, and his Double-Backflip not only made my life complete, it also sent the crowd into a roar. When it was announced that his score brought him into fourth place, the only boos heard all weekend rumbled through the crowd. On his last run, Ross Powers threw down pretty big, but when the judges gave him a 91.67 to tie him with Tommy “machine” Czeschin, I knew it was his name that got him a medal, not his tricks. He ended up in third because Czeschin’s second best run was better that Powers’s second best, even though they tied on their best score. Dan Kass had an unbelievable run to give him the gold, and on the matter of second best, Kass’s second best run was a 92.33, which was still better than the 91.67 that Czeschin and Powers tied for the silver. Kass won with a 95. For the women, Shannon Dunn threw down for the win.

Danny Kass celebrating his win. Photo Matt Robson

Day 4:

ESPN angered me today. They put Mens Snowboard Big Air at the same time as Moto X Big air, but they put them on absolute opposite sides of the mountain. Being the hardcore boarder that I am, I stayed for the snowboarders. I heard that the Moto X was unbelievable, and the 70 foot jump, although icy, was an amazing thing to watch. The big air jump did not have a long enough run-in, and the riders needed to be pushed by their friends to have enough speed to clear the tabletop. Tara Dakides of course won the women”s. She threw a backflip 180 as the last rider of the competition. This was enough to win her the gold for the third year in a row in big air. EXPN calls the trick a Rodeo 5, but they are dead wrong. In the men’s, Jim Rippey was really pissed off about the comeshot. For all the sickos reading this, the comeshot was an ESPN camera placed on the lip of the jump to get a really good picture of the riders as they dropped in to the kicker. The riders went on strike at this point and refused to hit the jump until the comeshot was removed. The corruption flew again. The camera had been knocked down in the practice runs when a rider did a late frontflip and the nose of his board knocked the camera off the lip. So, during all the practice runs, there was no comeshot. However, once the actual competition rolled around, the comeshot was back up, “I looked at that F*cking camera on the lip for half a second and it totally messed me up,” says Rippey. One of the less known riders, Marc-Andre Tarte, was I think throwing the best practice jumps I’ve ever seen. He was landing 1080 grabs with ease, but when he tried one on his second jump, he didn’t get a clean grab off and he did a revert after he landed. I actually met him at a restaurant Friday night and he seemed like a really great guy. However, since he isn’t well known, ESPN can’t make any money off his win, so he will not win the competition. Jussi Oksanen won with a Cab 900. I am so tired of this trick it sickens me. Josh Dirksen deserved the win when he landed a clean one-footed backflip on his second run. Judges obviously do not appreciate the difficulty of one-footedness.

Overall, the X-games experience was one of free lift tickets, hot college girls working the Call ATT booth, free bagel bites, U.S. Marines forcing us to do pull-ups, a 450 to boardslide never performed in competition before, a skier doing a flair to frontflip in the big air, a bunch of hicks having more to watch this year now that there was hillcross too, 85,100 people (1,600 more than last year), Shaun “the Egg” White, a double backflip in the pipe, corruption, problems with a comeshot, and meeting a pro rider at the salad bar. In the words of Gian Simmen, “Cool.”