My perfect Super Bowl halftime show is a good ski or snowboard flick. So flip off the commercials and switch over to deep powder, big cliff drops and cool locations. And if your looking for some new films, consider this a recommendation for a few films touring New England.
As always, there is a great mix of films in this three-hour presentation. Skiing has not typically been included, but this year there is an amazing ski film, "Unicorn Sashimi," (from Japan) that is partially shot at night in deep, deep powder. The slow motion is amazing.
Also, Greg Stump is back with his long awaited release of "Legend of to Aahh’s."
Don’t miss this film! It has a limited New England run, but this week it's in Plymouth NH at the Flying Monkey Theater on Feb. 8.
Twenty five years after unleashing the award winning ski film “Blizzard Of Aahhh’s” upon the world, Greg Stump (who has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Ski History Association, is in the Maine State Ski Hall of Fame, and was named one of the 25 most influential people in skiing by Skiing magazine) returns to the ski film genre with “Legend Of Aahhh’s.”
After 15 years working the Hollywood scene directing commercials, including Disney’s 2001 Tony Hawk Super Bowl spot, as well as music videos for Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson and Promise Of The Real, Seal, Art Of Noise, Dinosaur Jr., and The Beach Boys, Greg Stump is back to skiing.
According to the trailer, "through a semi-autobiographical approach, Greg explores the history of the ski film and how these films influenced big mountain skiing… and pop culture with the birth of the extreme sports movement," following the release of “Blizzard Of Aahhh’s” in 1988 and Glen Plake and Scot Schmidt’s pivotal appearance on NBC’s Today Show, where the word and concept of “extreme” exploded into the consciousness of mainstream America.
"Legend of Aahhh's" features interviews with Warren Miller, Dick Barrymore, Otto Lang, John Jay, Klaus Obermeyer, and the skiing of Scot Schmidt, Glen Plake, Mike Hattrup, Lynne Wieland, and many more. It also has an an amazing soundtrack.
So, while the world is looking at television ads during half time, I’ll be popping in my favorite ski films this weekend and planning my next trip to the theater to see new ones.
Dominance in sports is an amazing accomplishment, and Shawn White winning his sixth gold medal in the Men’s Super Pipe is monumental.
Sliver went to Japanese Ayumu Hirano, who at just 14 years old, came within just seven points of beating White, who is almost twice his age.
Hirano, when asked why he's so good at a press conference, answered simply, “I don’t know.” For ESPN, it was a perfect ending to another X Games full of non-stop action, high-flying stunts, acrobatics, and crashes.
And ESPN knows why the X Games are so good; it's because people are watching.
In 2012 total attendance in Aspen reached 108,000 and this year, the number is expected to be higher. On Saturday night alone ESPN was reporting 47,000-plus sports enthusiasts in the stands. This year the event hosted over 200 athletes competing in 16 disciplines.
Between ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, action sports have a huge platform and with a record number of people watching, advertisers are happy, fans are thrilled and the X Games will roll on.
For the athletes competing on the biggest stage in action sports, there is very little room for error. They're gambling it all, and, let's face it: these events are dangerous.
In the Men’s Ski SuperPipe, the announcer said noted that every athlete competing in the event has had a major surgery in the last 14 months. In the Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe, two of the television announcers were athletes with injuries: Kevin Pierce has a permanent brain injury and, the other, Gretchen Bleiler, is suffering from a fractured eye socket from a crash during training on a trampoline.
In Snowmobile X, two brothers were injured in different races but on the same jump. Celeb Moore has brain complications and his brother Colten separated his pelvis.
Also, in Snowmobiling, an Australian competitor attempted a backflip Sunday night in the best trick competition and his sled took off into the viewing area. A Colorado man was injured, but not before throwing his 11-year-old son out of the way of the unmanned sled. That's just the tip of the iceberg for injuries, further down on the list are spines, knees and concussions.
However, with a world-wide television audience the X Games have changed the culture of sports forever. There are X Game events this year in Spain, France, Brazil, Germany along with the two in this country (taking place in Aspen and LA).They have transformed sports, changed the direction of the Olympics and produced some of best know athletes in the world today.
Shawn White’s sixth gold medal will make him one of the most sought-after athletes leading up to and during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia next year. Meanwhile, coming up behind him is an entirely new generation of skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and others, led by young talented athletes like Ayumu Hirano, who have better training, coaching and who are willing to risk it all for the fame and fortune of the likes of Shawn White and others.
The Men’s Ski Superpipe has always been my favorite X Games event. Think of it ... the pipe is rock-hard ice with walls 17-plus feet high. The athletes are flying above the walls while flipping, twisting and grabbing their skis. If you have never been in a superpipe, visit Loon or Okemo and take a look. It's very wild just to ski down the middle of it and look up the walls ... nevermind ski up to the lip, or jump up and out of the pipe.
David Wise won the contest on Friday night - and he did it with style - leaving no doubt of why he became the first double gold medalist in this event since Tanner Hall in 2008. It's hard to win one of these contest due to the nature of the judging, and the fact that every year competitors are constantly setting new heights and new tricks. Check out his superpipe performance from last year.
The 21-year-old Wise is a new dad from Lake Tahoe, California. You can see him in the new Warren Miller film "Flow State" or any number of other videos.
His winning run included a back-to back double cork 1260 trick that has never been done before. It was an amazing run. What struck me were the grabs, the height and how smooth he was floating in the air.
Turin Yates-Wallace, at just 17 years old, won the silver while Bethel, Maine native Simon Dumont - a true superpipe warrior - won the bronze. The 26-year-old Dumont had a broken wrist and skied without poles in the competition. (Dumont is pictured to the right competing without poles at the US Grand Prix on Jan. 11, 2013.) It could be argued that poles don’t help much in the superpipe. But if that was true, why do the other competitors use them? The answer is simple: Balance.
He broke his wrist while competing in the Dew Tour earlier in the year, but that didn’t slow him down. He is known for going big in the pipe, and this year was no different. Dumont is also no stranger to injuries. In 2006, he broke his pelvis in three places and ruptured his spleen when he overshot a jump in Utah. Another injury includes a knee injury that caused him to pull out of the X Games in France last winter. If you are looking to see this Simon in person, don’t miss the Dumont Cup held at Sunday River in late March.
The 5th annual Dumont Cup returns this spring as the biggest free ski event in the East, and the biggest pro-am competition in the world. With $20,000 in cash up for grabs, you'll see top X Games pros throwing down against an amateur field that always gives them a run for their money.
So it's bronze for Dumont to add to his medal count. Since 2002 he was won two gold, two silvers and now four bronze medals in Winter X Ski Superpipe, plus a gold in Big Air back in 2009. We have not seen the last of Simon, he has been named to the 2014 US Olympic Ski Team and will compete in Sochi, Russia next year in the superpipe. He is a true ski professional, one I like to watch and one who has not let injury or fame slow him down from his passion for the sport.
Aspen is a great place any time of year, but for the last 11 years in late January Aspen comes alive via the power of the X Games! ESPN moved the X Games to Aspen in 2002, and the resort has the contract through 2014. The action kicks off this Thursday, January 24th, and the action is on ESPN from noon to 11pm.
The biggest events are the ski and snowboard half pipe for sure. And this year marks the return of Tanner Hall ... it’s been three years since he competed. Maine’s Simon Dumont (some You Tube footage below) is his arch rival, and together these two guys set the standard of half-pipe skiing in the world. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain their dominance, because today it’s all about the new comers. So look for the Canadian or the French to step it up.
Gone from the competition this year is Skier X and Board X. With very little explanation, the organizers pulled the plug on these two very popular events. Both of these events are now in the Olympics and have grown in popularity around the world from the youth level to the international FIS World Cup. Maybe this is ESPN saying we don’t want mainstream, or maybe it was too much to organize. Whatever the case, you’ll have to watch the Visa Grand Prix or the Revolution Tour to get your fix, both are televised and more information can be found at www.usfreeskiing.com/freeskiing.
The one man who has become the face of the X Games is Shawn White (check out his perfect 100 score from last year's X Games). And yes ... he is back. The only athlete to compete in both summer and winter X Games, White is an icon and a real life action hero. At the Winter Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver, he was the highest endorsed individual athlete there. He continues to perform at an extremely high level and I would not count him out again this year. However, there are plenty of big names to follow including Olympian Louie Vito and New Hampshire’s own Olympian Scotty Lago.
The women’s snowboard field is filled with the biggest names ... and the three American’s Gretchen Bleiler, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter (video below of her 2011 silver medal run) could be the best of all time. These three have been on top of their game for a long time and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a USA sweep of this event.
For you “sled heads” out there, will be plenty of action. Back by popular demand is SnoCross. This event is a blast with side by side racing, big air and lots of crashes. There is also SnoCross Adaptive racing, which will prove to create a whole bunch of new hero’s and X Game legend’s. Also included in Snowmobile is best trick, freestyle, and speed and style. So put in your ear plugs and look for some wild action.
For the entire schedule of events log onto www.xgames.espn.go.com. The X Games are viewed in over 200 countries and this year Aspen is embracing for over 110,000 fans over the four day event. I’ll be watching for sure, hope you will be too.
Ski season is here, but have you skied local Boston Ski Areas lately? Local Boston ski areas have great skiing and have a lot to offer skiers of all abilities. So take the Dan Egan challenge and visit two or more of the following resorts and discover why I?m a fan of them all.
I learned to ski at Blue Hills. Blue Hills is the closest ski area to any major city in the United States. On a clear evening standing on top of ?Big Blue? is a great site of the Boston skyline and the surrounding area. The skiing is challenging, the main run is steep, and if you want to meet expert skiers who ski up north and out west but still love to ski Blue Hills, stop in and say to the Ski Patrol.
Nashoba Valley is not only close to Boston, but offers everything a northern New England Ski Area has to offer. The ski area spreads out and you?ll be surprised at the number of lifts and trails. If you like terrain parks, their rails and jumps are second to none. The Nashoba Valley tubing park is so popular and fun that when Shaq played for the Celtics, this is where he brought his family to hang out.
Wachusett Mountain dominates the landscape just off of route 2 and if you buzz out there for an evening out, you better bring your ski legs. The terrain park rocks so bring the family and enjoy big mountain skiing close to home. On the corporate side, Wachusett Mountain offers corporate suites that mini condo over looking the slopes.
Ski Ward off of 495 is your ticket west and north of the city. My friends who ski here love it because it?s small, close and a blast for young skiers and snowboarders. One of the lesser-known local ski areas, Ward offers an oasis for families when you want to get away and be back home in a flash. With four lifts and 8 tubing lanes, Ski Ward will be a blast.
Ski Bradford is also a blast. This hill has produced some of the best skiers in New England. People have history with this place. I raced there in the State Championship in 1982 and got edged out of second place by the owner?s son, and when you come away from Ski Bradford, you?ll be making plans to return with friends and family and to start your own memories and history.
So get after it this winter and ski one or more of these local ski areas. You?ll have an adventure close to home and may even rediscover a few simple things about why you love to ski and snowboard.