What Is The Next Olympic Action Sport?

5 01 2012

With all the talk of the FIS taking the reins on the Olympic slopestyle qualifications lately, and the fact that Shaun White says his next real focus will be to get skateboarding in the games I have been doing a lot of thinking on the topic of action sports in the world’s largest mainstream sporting event.

What are the chances Shaun succeeds in bringing the shred to the Olympics yet again?  If he does, what will it look like?  And finally what impact will this have on another of the sports we love so much?

To answer the first question, in a word I’d say yes.  I truly believe that thanks to the success of the winter sports as well as the recent addition of BMX to the games there is a very good chance that in the near-ish future we could see skate make an appearance alongside the other Olympic exercises.  The reasons why I believe this are plenty but in the interest of holding your interest I will try keep it to a few.

For starters the Olympics is trying so hard to be cool that there really is no telling what lengths they will go to in order to modernize the games.  With that being said let’s look at some of the criteria in place to get a sport included.

The IOC states that for inclusion “A sport first has to be recognized: it must be administered by an International Federation which ensures that the sport’s activities follow the Olympic Charter. If it is widely practiced around the world and meets a number of criteria established by the IOC session, a recognized sport may be added to the Olympic programme on the recommendation of the IOC’s Olympic Programme Commission.”

Of those criteria I fail to see one that isn’t already in place, with the obvious exception of it not being recommended to the IOC itself, but that part is relatively easy.

The sport has mass appeal worldwide, has millions of participants and can be done in more locations than nearly any other sport.  Add to that the fact that all you need for a venue in the case of White’s version is a single ramp, able to be constructed in any pre-existing Olympic-ready building.  So I think there is a solid case to be made for it as an easy fit.  As for the other form of the sport…

…On to the next issue.

What form would “Olympic Skateboarding” take, and here is my thought is that.  Any Olympic version of a sport seems to be the least threatening version possible.  By that of course I mean the IOC charter speaks in volume about fair play, sportsmanship and a bunch of other things that make the street skating side of the sport a little scary at first glance.  Halfpipe skating however, has the ability to transform itself into this clean cut account of the sport, where there is no need to be raw, and rough and get kicked out of your “venue” by the cops.  Ramp skating can be seen as Danny Way’s monumental leap in China, or Mitchie Busco, potentially the cutest little nug of a skater ever hucking a 900 and being praised by the elders of the sport.  So I think that if and when skate gets in, halfpipe will be the tip of the sword.

Ending off this rant, I’d just like to talk a little about “What impact this might have on skate, and the other ‘alternative sports’”.  This is where I feel like it gets tricky.  Look at the effect that snowboarding in the Olympics had on the sport as a whole; they decided to put racing in the Olympics years back and the concept of a stiff, ski-style boot still makes some people (including myself) a little nauseous.  Then look at what happened when a snowboarder was caught smoking weed (not inhaling, or whatever) great for the public image of the sport that’s for sure.

Action sports are forced to fight for respect and media attention every day, but in the same breathe I don’t know if altering our image to fit the mold of the perfect aspirational athletes is the way to get it either.

Outside of that, think of the impact it has on people inside the sport, who live it, and don’t want to see something they love taken from them and tainted for the sake of fitting in.  Terje’s Olympic boycott, and the current issues facing slopestyle are shining examples of that, and it is a solid truth that if we don’t send the best in the sport, no one wins.

So what I am saying with all of this is that the chances of skateboarding, and eventually a host of other action sports cracking the list of events in humanity’s oldest sporting festival are pretty good.  But whether or not that is what’s best for the sports themselves, or the athletes who perform them remains to be seen.

As always, thanks for listening,

-t





New Additions To DC Pro Team

2 01 2012

After long last there comes some huge news to kick off 2012.  Streetjesus is back on the map with our first new post in weeks!

Kidding there is bigger news than that, and you guys called it!  With nearly 45% of the popular vote it seems as though you all knew that Mike Mo Capaldi was going to end up rolling around with DC’s on his feet.

This is massive news considering he joins what is quickly becoming the New York Yankees of the skate world.  Scooping up every talented player they can get their hands on and creating one of the most stacked teams ever assembled.  DC now consists of Chris Cole, Mikey Taylor, Mike Mo…Oh yeah, and NYJAH HUSTON.  All in addition to their already great roster featuring the likes of Danny Way, Matt Miller and Colin McKay.

Stayed tuned as product releases for the two newest athletes on the DC team won’t be far behind.  And as for Streetjesus, don’t worry we promise never to leave you for that long ever again.  And who knows, maybe we will have some new additions for 2012 as well.





“Thank You SURFER Magazine”

7 12 2011

Last night I was up a little late, because last night I was running on Hawaii time.  The SURFER Magazine poll Awards went down and for the second year in a row they took place in the home of surfing on the North Shore of Oahu.  The awards are an annual reminder of whose opinions matter most in the world of surf, the fans.  Not the writers, or the judges or the bloggers or the surfers, the fans matter because without that base of people who follow surfing, whatever reason their’s might be there would be no industry.

The awards covered all aspects of the sport recognizing everyone from the best in freesurfing to the contest superheros we watch on tour.  As well there was a few tiny surfboards handed out for the film side of things and major achievements like the new “Andy Irons Break Through Award” which went to John John Florence and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” that saw SURFER founder John Severson recognized for his contribution to the lifestyle.

The thing I love most about surfing is it’s diversity.  By it’s very nature it is more freeing than other sports and therefore more free to interpret for the audience who takes it in.  Whether you want to see Kelly Slater win another world title as determined by judges with a predetermined set of rules and a potentially alternate agenda, or if you just love seeing Dane Reynolds piss around in head-high surf the sport is yours to enjoy.  And on this night all aspects of the game were recognized.

There were a few highlights from the night, Rabbit Kekai partying like he was 19, not 91 or the multiple curse words used on live TV were just a few.  Add to that the fact that there was a large amount of female surfers dressed to the 9’s and a handful of different liquor sponsors and just like that, we had ourselves a party!

But there was a plan for the night, and the show had to go on despite the fact that everyone in attendance would have been happy to just get crushed and watch wipe-outs all night.  The crowd eventually filtered in and the night got started with what seemed like an impromptu intro from Hawaii native Freddy P, and action sports emcee extraordinaire Sal “Al Makelela” Masekela.  All jokes aside, the awards themselves were pretty awesome.

For starters the night kicked off with Alex Gray winning the award for best barrel and accepting with a heartfelt tribute to his brother.

After that we got into the actual SURFER poll which breaks down the top surfers in the world as voted by the fans online, with social media and in the magazine itself.  The bottom of the list for the men was one of the most touching things I have ever watched as the Irons’ brother Bruce and Andy finished 10 and 9 respectively, with Bruce accepting both awards.  Of course this included the classic Bruce “I don’t give a F+CK! attititude”.

Then, just as I thought I was in for a touching night of speeches, tears and thank-yous, we got into the fun stuff, like Dane Reynolds making multiple appearances on stage and hot surfer chicks accepting awards and complaining about not being able to surf a contest on the North Shore…AND SO THEY SHOULD DAMMIT!  The surfers finished being counted and the drinks continued to flow.

The dancing went on late into the night and surf celebrity Bethany Hamilton even dropped a hint that she was looking to Dance With The Stars.  I won’t say I told you so if it happens, but you did hear it here first.

Here are the list of top pros and a nice little video paying tribute to the father of SURFER John Severson.  God I love this sport!

Men’s Top 10

10. Bruce Irons
9. Andy Irons
8. Jordy Smith
7. Joel Parkinson
6. Mick Fanning
5. Taj Burrow
4. Julian Wilson
3. Owen Wright
2. Dane Reynolds
1. Kelly Slater


Women’s Top 5

5. Sally Fitzgibbons
4. Alana Blanchard
3. Stephanie Gilmore
2. Coco Ho
1. Carissa Moore


-t





Nuulife Cinemas Presents : What Happened? ft. Kurtis Rothecker

24 11 2011

Recently our boys in Nuulife Cinemas released a film.  It was about the past season when nobody really knows What Happened?  All we can really tell from the footage is that a bunch of rad kids from all over the place got together and shredded the shit out of hills, handrails and whatever else they could get their hands on.

Bangers were plentiful and off-hill hilarity ensued at every turn.  This video is great from start to finish and the fact that it was put together by some of the nicest, most raddest, coolest, bro-ly-est people I have ever met.

I am going to shut up because I talk to much as it is.  Just enjoy the videos, thanks Kurtis for the links and everyone at Nuulife for your hard work.  Keep sending!

-t

 





Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing: Why More People Need To Watch

23 11 2011

Ok, so everyone knows I like to talk about surfing and the cool thing is that for a prairie kid the talk goes far beyond the standard “Blue Crush” banter that you hear when walking into your local Billabong retailer.

This past week saw the Triple Crown Presented by Vans kick off on the North Shore of Hawaii and it also marks the start of the season when there is a live feed on nearly every day, thanks to the massive fields that are included in these events.

I seriously think that if you want to get an idea of what pro surfing is at its most grassroots form, these are the contests to watch.  They include a great mix of pro surfers from the ASP’s top flights like the World Championship Tour and World Qualifying Tour as well as surfers who take part in lower tier events all over the world but have enough points to get in.  The field is rounded of with a few wildcards from the sponsors, qualifying events and of course, Hawaii.

The first 2 events, The Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa and the Vans World Cup of Surf at Sunset which will commence on the 25th have a field that starts at 128 and narrows down over the course of about 2 weeks to see an event champion who must not only conquer some of the world’s best surf, but also the world’s best surfers.

The final jewel on the crown is the famous Billabong Pipeline Masters, which happens from December 8 – 20.  It has a bit of a different format, seeing only the best 36 take to the water in the actual contest to fight it out for the most sought after title in all of surf.

The reasons why it is a good idea to watch these contests are almost endless, from the heart-warming stories like how Hawaiian local and 2011 world women’s champ Carissa Moore got an invite and held her own against the bros.  Or how perennial ASP hater J’OB continues to spew harsh words toward the governing body of surf, but still supports the sport in the place he calls home.

But perhaps the best reason to tune into the Triple Crown is because it is the best way to familiarize yourself with REAL contest surfing and not the type you see in the movies.  You will be introduced to the names in the game from the unheard Hawaiians that tear up these events every year to world tour juggernauts like Kelly, Mick, Jordy and Parko.

You will be witness to all the things a pro surf contest is made up of, from terrible announcers to even worse athlete interviews; from lulls in swell to classic Hawaiian bulges that create highlight reel rides.  The surf world waits for these events every year and there is one obvious reason why:  they seldom disappoint.  And although the title races are wrapped up for the season and champions already have their crowns, you need only to look back to Jeremy Flores last year to see just how special these events can be.

I am going to get back to watching surfing now.  Peace Brah!

-t





FIS : King Of The Castle

18 11 2011

Recently the FIS made a decision not allowing TTR events to count in Olympic qualifying.  This is stupid, on so many levels I can’t even count them all.  But just for fun, as we often do on Streetjesus let’s give it an honest try.  For starters, the idea behind the Olympics is to have the best athletes in the world competing against each other in there respected disciplines.  The original format only included amateur athletes but was then opened up to allow for better competition appealing to a broader viewing audience.

More recently the IOC (International Olympic Committee) began adding sports like BMX in the summer and snowboarding in the winter to better demonstrate the new games that are being contested by the youth of our modern world.  This past year the decision came down to allow freestyle skiing and snowboarding into the games in the form of Halfpipe and Slopestyle events.  In theory this is awesome, because it gives our sports a voice and will allow them to be seen by an audience who wouldn’t otherwise know they exist.

But theory and reality are two vastly different things, and the ideals of the athletes and organizers of these sports as they compare to the realities being set forth by it’s governing bodies are even more drastic.  The reasons why are plentiful and the arguments about each of them are heated and ongoing, so let’s get in the mix.

For starters the qualifying process for the games is so wrong it’s like going to Canadian Tire for your snowboard setup and calling it legitimate because you can also buy gear for other sports there like hockey, soccer and basketball; all of which are also Olympic sports.  The problem lies in the fact that the system under which the freestyle sports operate already have an amazing network of events in place that consists of not just the TTR schedule, but the X Games, Dew Tour, and countless other events around the globe that the best athletes flock to for reasons like prize money, recognition, sponsor commitments and course layouts.  These sports were created from a different mold than other games, and need to be treated as such.  They are not run of the mill sports in their nature, the way they are played or the way they are scheduled.  What the FIS has done is told riders that they need to abandon preexisting events and instead ride in the sanctioned events that the FIS will be putting on in order to qualify for the Russia games.

If you are a hockey player, you do not qualify to play for your country by solely playing in IIHF games, far more emphasis is put on club team play in the NHL domestically and elite leagues through the world.  Similarly, the NBA is the main contributor to North American based players in the Olympics, who almost never play in FIBA events during the year.

My point is why, if there is a perfectly good, preexisting “league” in place, do you require these riders to go out of there way and qualify via your sub-par events.  I can confidently call them sub-par for many reasons, let’s talk about a big one.  The FIS has NO IDEA what they are doing when it comes to freestyle events, partly because they have never had to govern them before, but possibly more so because they have their hands full with so many other winter sports that freestyle skiing and snowboarding are nothing more than a blip on their radar.  The athlete support isn’t there, as these contests have no prize money, or coverage in any type of worthwhile media, and this is the ONLY way these athletes make money.  Add to that the course layout at most of the events could be better done by a blind monkey with an ice pick and you have a recipe for disaster.

The athletes want no part in the games if this is how you have to get there.  But don’t take my word for it, take theirs:

Seb Toots : “There are already so many events, between the Dew Tour, the X Games, the FIS, and the TTR — it’s impossible to compete in them all. If you have to choose, you choose TTR. No one wants to compete FIS.”*

Chas Guldemond : “If the Olympics are supposed to be the pinnacle event, then why aren’t the pinnacle events leading up to it going to be recognized as the qualifying events, instead of some bunk-a– FIS events that nobody cares about? It’s ridiculous.”*

Terje Haakonsen : “The most amazing thing about the whole situation is that snowboarders are dependent on a European ski organization to decide how our sport should be run. Snowboarding is an American board sport and not European skiing. Until we are in control, it will never be right.

The only good thing about this Olympic noise is that more young riders understand how incredibly arrogant politicians in the FIS are. Snowboarding will never be first priority for the FIS. Instead, alpine skiing, ski jumping and cross country fight for first place. Even the combination of two of those sports gets greater priority inside FIS than Snowboarding.

FIS is unique in international sports. I know of no other association that organizes more than one sport. Football is football, hockey is hockey, baseball is baseball, biathlon is biathlon. FIS has five different sports! There is always competition for priority within the FIS. The best skiers have threatened to create their own series several times, and it is not because they are satisfied with the way FIS runs things.

I would think that it would be good for the IOC also if the FIS had less sports to oversee, because now the FIS has too much power in the Olympics. But when the FIS president is a part of the IOC (Gian-Franco Kasper sits on the IOC commission in charge of Olympic broadcasting) there will never be any changes.

It irritates the FIS leaders that biathlon crushes their sports in television ratings in Europe. But why is biathlon Europe’s most popular winter sport on TV? Because it has its own association and guides the development of the sport itself. They only have to focus on one thing, one sport. They get up every day and think about how they can make the product better for athletes and fans.

Does anyone think that Sverre Seeberg and the other heads of the FIS council ever give snowboarding a thought No, they only think about snowboarding when they are forced to do so for political reasons — like right now, when all the snowboarding world will have an answer to the Olympic issue. We knew of course that they were going to say no because they protect their own monopoly. IOC and FIS are NOT non-profit organizations. They travel around the world treated like royals, and how they run things is a mystery since they do everything behind closed doors. They should be helping people around the world to get active in sports, but they are just big middle men that take for their own benefit and power.”**

So, basically my hope is this, and I can only image what would happen if it plays out.  I wish every top level snowboarder in the world would do what Terje did in 1998 and say forget it to the Olympics and their bastardized version of our sport.  Forget it all together.

 

If the way in which you got there is wrong, and the athletes who chose to go aren’t the best in the world, then what is the point of winning anyway?  The only thing these Olympic champions will be remembered for is winning that contest that no one showed up to.

-t

 

* – source: ESPN
** – source: Snowboarder Magazine

 





Monyca Byrne Wickey vs. Alana Blanchard

8 11 2011

Like the sounds of that heading?  Me too!  That is a battle I will take any day, not only in the water but in front of the camera as well.  Transworld Surf Media just held its 2011 Hottest Girls In Surfing Contest and it was a dead heat that came right down to the wire, or the string bikini if you prefer.

While Alana Blanchard, who has long be a girlfriend of the SJ has had a stronghold on the hottie area for years she obviously has some competition from this year’s champ:

Monyca Byrne Wickey!!

And now…The pictures!  Enjoy kids!

Monyca : The 2011 Champ

Alana

Monyca

Alana

Monyca

Alana

Monyca

Alana

Monyca

Now that you’ve seen the 2 worthy contestants let us know your thoughts.  Who is the hotter of the two hotties?  The reigning title holder Alana or the new girl wearing the crown Monyca?

all photos courtesy of TransWorld Surf








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