Skier or boarder? Doesn't matter to me. But both want respect. If they want it, they can get it from me. You obviously haven't been to the X Games if you're a boarder and don't respect skiers (or the other way around).
I've never skied before and can't snowboard worth crap. But I now have a newfound love for each sport. And if you don't think either is a sport, you have some serious issues. Guys like Shaun White, Danny Cass, Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont are some of the top athletes I've seen in any sport.
Television doesn't do either sport justice. You can't pretend to know what the Superpipe really looks like while on your couch. You have to be leaning over the railing looking down at the massive 18-foot walls. Or watch Antti Autti pull back-to-back 1080s, one with a nose grab, while flying about 13 feet above those walls on his way to a near-perfect run, knocking the "Flying Tomato" (Shaun White) off the winners' podium. By the way, that could be one of the best nicknames in all of sports.
I don't think you can imagine what a 1260 looks like unless you're watching the guy fly practically above your head, spinning 3.5 rotations and landing more graciously than a bird does. It was breathtaking; trust me, because it took mine away.
I was at the winter X Games with two avid skiers. Both couldn't say a bad thing about boarders by the end of the weekend. How could you when those boarders are defying gravity and physics and progressively changing the sport every year?
Selema Masekela has spent the last six years as an X Games reporter/commentator. This is what he had to say on the progression of extreme sports.
"The run you do last year only gets you a pat on the back this year. The progression is so crazy. You can watch ice skating – no offense to figure skating – you can do the triple sow cow and the quad, and that's about it," Masekela said to the Aspen Daily News.
Extreme sports are finally getting some of the recognition they deserve. The purses for competition are increasing and the sports are expanding with more and more followers. Instead of 12-year-old boys growing up wanting to be a 6-foot-6-inch Michael Jordan, the trend is shifting to a 5- foot-8-inch Shaun White, who gets more air than Jordan ever did.
It's impossible to have a bad time at the X-Games when everyone around you is having so much fun. The fans go nuts and the riders go huge. These athletes aren't in it for the money; they're in it because it's their passion. They go out there and ride with their friends. They congratulate each other and nearly fall on the ground in shock with the rest of the fans when they see a buddy drop a nasty trick.
Year 10 of the "games" will be in Aspen a year from now (it may be the last year it's there) and I encourage everyone to go out and support your boarders or skiers or just everyone in sight.
Scott Bondy is a junior psychology major. He is a sports reporter for the Collegian.