First Day Of Snow

7 11 2011

Why do you think the saying “Jesus Loves You” gets used around here so much?  My guess is, it’s because every time I see something like this the only word that comes to mind is love.  There are just some things in life that make you smile, because they are amazing to watch, but also because of the people who are involved in them and what they are doing for the greater good.

In this case, all things are involved.  Great happenings, by great kids, for the greater greatness of snowskating.

Ambition Snowskates is proud to present Mitch Serbu and Austin Welter.  Thanks for the unbelievable guest spot Craig McMorris.

Boys, I don’t need to say it, but I will…

JESUS LOVES YOU!

-t





Long Live The King

3 11 2011

Yesterday Kelly Slater clinched his record 11th world title on the ASP World Tour.  He did so in pure Kelly fashion; catching a wave in the dying minutes of his round 3 heat and doing what only Kelly can do.  He linked together a set of solid turns, displacing water and spraying it high into the California skyline.  Everyone knew what happened on the face of that wave was solid, but it was not a guarantee that it would be enough to overtake the lead built up by Dan Ross earlier in the heat.  As the scores dropped and the tension rose, enough numbers were finally displayed that sentimental anticipation became mathematical reality.

King Kelly had once again done the impossible.  Defeating someone who was only a grom when he spent his first season on tour, but then again that is something that has been happening for years at this point.  So with that in mind let’s reflect for a moment, not only on what Kelly has done by winning 11 titles but the dominating fashion in which he has done so.

For starters, 11 titles let’s break that down.  I think Kelly’s girlfriend Kalani Miller’s post heat t-shirt said it best, Jordan + Kobe = Slater.  Like it or not, Kelly Slater has accomplished on his own what 2 of the greatest basketball icons of our time accomplished together.  Not only did it take 2 greats, competing at different times they both had great teams behind them.  The only thing Kelly had behind him on his road to 11 was a hungry pack of the world’s best up and coming surfers looking to dethrone a god.

There is literally a generation of surfers who have grown up with Kelly on top and have dreamt of nothing more than knocking him down.  Unlike Roger Federer, possibly the greatest tennis player of all time, this has been impossible.  RF, like Sampras and Borg before him had his time in the sun and then succumb to not only the pressure of being on top, but the next wave of young talent.

Slater has withstood wave after wave of this talent, and in the process defying not only time and age but also the mountain of pressure and expectation that comes with being the youngest, oldest and winning-est wave rider of all time.  With the exception of Andy Irons who was taken from us much to quickly last year the collective professional surf world has been but a blip on Kelly’s competitive radar for the last 20 years.  Sure there were years in the last 20 when he didn’t win the title (’91, ’93, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’07, ’09) but you need to factor into that his hiatus, the death of his father, and the inevitable hangover that comes after just 1 championship.

Think how rare it is to see ANY repeat champion, let alone a 5-peat.  In the history of pro sports (in North America) there has been 1 in each of the major sports.  The Celtics (59-66) won 8 straight, the Montreal Canadiens (56-60), and the New York Yankees (49-53).  And now, as I always do I will present my argument.  None of these came in the “common era” where athleticism is at at a much higher level and competitive sports in general have become much more of a profession.  By this I mean, I don’t believe the 1957 Montreal Canadiens were training every day, year round trying to defend their title. Oh yeah, and they were also only playing against 5 other teams.  The Celtics and Yankees also had the advantage of being able to eliminate the weak links on their team and grow their squad to properly adapt and accomplish the feats they did.

When it comes to individual athletes, NO ONE has ever done what Kelly has.  Jack Nicklaus spent just over 20 years on the PGA tour, but was far from being the undisputed best for more than half of those years.  And as a final piece to this short discussion I dare you to compare the physical aspects of these two sports.  For example, Occy would get absolutely dominated on the current tour, while golfers of advanced age still shoot low scores that would be competitive on the PGA.

Kelly Slater is the greatest athlete of all time.  If you want to dispute this fact with me, I welcome you to it.  Show me a pro athlete in any discipline who has dominated the highest level of their sport for more than half of their career that also spanned 2 decades.  In addition to the physical ability needed to compete for the “Greatest Athlete Of All Time” award the candidate must also be the face of their sport, like Jordan, Tiger, or Wayne Gretzky but they must also have taken a sport that was not well known prior to them arriving on the scene and making it an internationally recognized and respected discipline a la Tony Hawk.

Ok, go… Told you he is the greatest ever.

Call him what you want.  Ke11y, KS11, Robert Kelly Slater…
I am calling him The Greatest Ever.

 

Slater photos : Surfer Magazine





Andy Irons : A Year Later

2 11 2011

Very few things, other than stubbing my toe can bring me to tears.  Of those few things the primary one is when monumental things happen in the world of action sports.  Good things like watching Tony Hawk pull his 900, or viewing That’s It That’s All for the 100th time.  But last year the surf world was struck by something the very opposite of those heart-warming and memorable moments.  The sudden death of Andy AI Irons took the global community by total surprise and they are still struggling to come to terms with it 12-months later.

After leaving an event in tropical conditions with suspected Dengue Fever, Irons died in a Texas hotel room, alone and without immediate explanation.  As it would later be revealed, Andy was having continuing trouble dealing with his inner demons, and the struggle ultimately cost him his life.  The list of reasons why this event was tragic is a lengthy one with everything from his new marriage, expected son, resurgence in the surf world and more positive mindset all being things that should have kept him going.

The other side of it was the poor manner with which the ASP handled the events.  Hiding things, masking the details of Andy’s situation and changing the tune of their story multiple times over the the course of the past months.  But at the end of the day the reasons, happy or sad to talk about this are now non-issues.  The fact of the matter is that one of the most loved and talented surfers the sport has ever seen is no longer with us and the pain that comes with the loss of life is magnified by the truth that he had an immensely positive impact on our world.

My heart continues to go out to those closest to him.  That obviously includes the surfers and people involved in AI’s professional life but more importantly to his family, his wife Lyndie, his son Andy, brother Bruce and parents Phil and Danielle.  Regardless of how much the surf media talks about his life as a surfer who changed the game, the day he lost his struggle impacted those people infinitely more than any of us outside of that group.

That is not to say that Andy didn’t have an amazing impact on a countless number of people, including myself who will use today to pay tribute for what he did for all of us.  So here is my tribute, a simple thank you to AI, a condolence to his family and a few images that will remind us all of the surfer and the man that we said good-bye to one year ago.

Gone, Never forgotten.  Mahalo AI

-t





Dear Doping Agencies, Are You High?

31 10 2011

Over the weekend Canadian wakeboarder Aaron Rathy was stripped of his Pan-Am silver medal because he tested positive for a substance found in a fat-burner supplement that he bought at GNC.  What I would like to know is, what effect does this supplement have on his performance, as it is something commonly found in over the counter nasal spays and  other, basically useless stuff.  Let’s start with this, I get it; banned substance lists are put in place to protect the fair place and ethics of sport and to make this fair play as paramount as possible.  But give me a break, this goes beyond the usual “I didn’t know what I was taking” excuse and lands more properly in the “No one knew what he was taking” category.  A majority of the products containing the banned substance “methylhexaneamine” don’t even list it, and even if they do it’s not banned by every governing body.

This leads me to question the difference between a performance enhancer, and an “everyone takes this on a daily basis, and it pretty much does sweet ‘F’ all” pill.  I understand that Ben Johnson, Roger Clemens and a host of other athletes have taken things that change their bodies and give them an edge over the competition, but when you start banning stuff like fat-burners, and bismuth subsalicylate (pepto-bismol) it goes beyond reason and into excess when it comes to a level playing field.

Give your heads a shake doping agencies.  If you want to test someone for banned substances that are helping their team win, try urine testing EVERY Little League World Series Athlete, or those female discus tossers who throw a frisbee twice the length of a football field.

The only thing enhanced by Rathy’s “supplement” taking is his ability to pull chicks due to lack of gut.

Seriously though, what are all these agencies going to do when freeskiing and snowboarding hit the Olympics? …Wait, we’ll be fine.  Just do what Ross Rebagliati did and tell ’em it was second hand.

 

-t





King Kelly Can Clinch : ASP World Tour Heads To SF

26 10 2011

There are two stops left on the ASP world tour, San Francisco this coming week and the world’s most popular surf contest in December on the North Shore.  The winter in Hawaii is watched by a shit ton of people to begin with, but a surf contest in San Fran can definitely not say the same thing.  Well, except this year.

Kelly Slater, 10x world champion and ambassador to the entire non-surfing world is poised to hold off Aussie rock star Owen Wright and take home his record 11th ASP title.  Kelly needs only a 9th place finish, which is equal to making the 5th round of the event something Kelly does in his sleep.  But here is the real question; while Kelly winning this unprecedented championship is a great thing, are the likely sloppy waves that will seen in the Bay Area the place for it to happen?

If Kelly took an early exit from the event and Owen had a strong showing, it would move the title race to Oahu and put more eyes on the event than we have seen since the Slater/Irons battle in 2003.

If, sometime in the next 2 weeks Kelly becomes Ke11y I will party like I won the title.  BUT if come December Kelly rides perfect pipe on his way to a title, further cementing his immortality it’ll be a fairy-tale ending to what is likely the greatest career of all time.  Let’s watch some Kelly!





Winter Of Wells Premiere : This Is A Must Watch

25 10 2011

Jossi Wells is really awesome, and according to the recent footage captured of his whole family so are his brothers.  Skiing is like any other sport, it is hard and requires a lifetime of dedication, hard work and even a little luck to be good at let alone professional.

Having an sibling do well in the sport never hurt anyone when it comes to getting noticed;  just ask McCraig.  But the first thing you will notice when you see Craig, Beau, Byron or Jackson do there thing the first observation you will make is that NONE of them are lacking in the talent department.

So a professional level of riding is obviously included throughout this video, but beyond that is a documentary of total award-worthiness.  The cinematography, production and editing is truly great and tells the story of the Wells family so well that I’m positive even non-skiiers will find captivating and enjoyable.

The world premiere just happened, but do what you have to do to get your hands on this film.  It’s going to be BIG…You heard it here first!

-t





So, Why Is BMX Dirt Not In The X Games?

19 10 2011

Last weekend the Dew Tour Championships were held in Las Vegas.  Events were held, Dew Cups were won, and 50 Cent played a show.  As usual the year-end tour stop went off with little more than a bump in the road.  There was a decent amount of prime time, and replay coverage this time around that made it easy to see everything that happened over the course of the 4-day event.  Thanks to a decent TV deal with NBC Alli Sports was actually able to get their event seen in this country, unlike when TSN opts to show billiards instead of the X Games, even though Canada sends a host of athletes.

Anyway, in the words of my boss, I digress.  The real issue here is not with how the event was run, or how much of of it was seen on TV, because we all know even if the event was awful I would still be hyped and even if it wasn’t on TV, I would have found a way to watch most of it.

My problem is that yet again a big issue was brought to people’s attention and it’s an unbelievably huge miss in my eyes.

Why BMX Dirt is not in the X Games, while events like Enduro X and Women’s Enduro X continue to be absolutely blows my mind.  I have spoken before about how wack looking fringe sports tarnish what the legitimate side of the action sports world is trying to accomplish and this is a shining example.  I mean it’s simple, would you rather see a teenager named Brett Banasiewicz do a cash roll, or some chick who can’t handle her KTM ride across some logs?

I don’t need to write anymore…

 

…But I feel like venting so I’m going to.  If we want to continue to help these sports grow, then how come we keep doing the dumbest things in hopes that they will catch on?  Seriously.  In order to stage an Enduro X event in LA at the X Games, it HAS to happen last.  The manpower and hours it takes to build the course are intense, as well, you have to flood the moto X courses and cover them in trees and rocks, so you need to wait until they are all finished.  This arguably puts the most exciting, and fan friendly events before the most confusing and WTF of all the events.

If you want to grow moto, keep doing things like Speed & Style because that combines the two aspects of motocross that people actually care about.  Speed and Style, as well as motocross and freestyle moto X push the limits of what is possible on a dirt bike and put it in a package that is highly marketable, incredibly fun to watch and in the true spirit of the games, extreme.

Enduro X pushes the limits of what is possible on your grandparents ranch, has almost NO market value (seriously, who watched those events) and on the women’s side forces girls who should be flying around a track and whipping through rhythm sections to try and man-handle a bike twice their size.

I don’t really think there is a sane argument to keep that event in X, and if there is then I want street luge back in.  Here is the really kick in the teeth though, where is BMX Dirt?  If we are talking about growing action sports and being able to cater events to fit in the X Games package, BMX Dirt is almost perfect.  It is at the very core of the sport, and the best riders in the world still look to jumps and trails to progress what is possible on a ride.  And if we want to talk about market value and growing an audience…BMX is in THE OLYMPICS!!!  The audience doesn’t get much bigger than that!  And although it is the racing side that is in the games, at least people know what it is and the only work left to do is show off the different facets of the sport.

Whatever.  Thanks for letting me rant.  You want proof that BMX Dirt should be in the X Games?  Here.

 

-t

 








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