SBJ/Jan. 24-30, 2011/In Depth

Memorable moments from Winter X

Shaun White

First gold medal
, snowboard halfpipe, 2003

“The previous two years in pipe and slopestyle, Shaun was being judged as a kid. He was a novelty in the world of snowboarding because he’d started his career before he was even a teenager. It was hard for both professionals and judges to comprehend that he was clear and away the future of the sport and, in fact, was already taking over. In the years prior to 2003, everyone complained that he didn’t go big enough. He was a kid and he didn’t have man legs at all. That was the year his man legs arrived. He went bigger than he’d ever gone and he was going so high in transition. That was when his smoothness came to play. He ushered in the era that the only way you could win was to be flawless. He raised the bar. Thus began his Tony Hawk ascension to the top of action sports.”
— Sal Masekela, ESPN X Games host

Torah Bright

, snowboard halfpipe, 2007

“In the snowboarding community, we’d been watching Torah kill it, but she hadn’t quite yet pulled it all together. In 2006 at the Winter Olympics in Italy, she’d been killing it in practice and then she fell on her two runs. She’d been working on super technical runs before X Games the next year. She came in and put down a really technical run with tricks like the Switch Backside 5, that wasn’t a part of many women’s runs. No one’s doing that. Not even now. It was an original run that defined her career. She’s still the only one that does tricks in a different combination. She won the event in signature Torah Bright style: flawless and technical. She owned it.”
— Tricia Byrnes, former X Games competitor

Levi LaVallee

Double backflip
, snowmobile, best trick, 2009

“Before we came into 2008, Levi wasn’t even a freestyler. He was a racer. He started talking about doing this double backflip. Think about doing that on a 400-pound sled. It’s like backflipping your couch twice. The physics don’t work. ... His premise for this jump was to go high so he would have enough hang time to get two spins on the sled. He had the thing lined up, he warmed up the sled, and we started thinking, ‘He’s not taking a practice run. He’s going for it.’ He hits the ramp hard, and he’s upside down and already falling out of the sky before he’s finished the first flip. Watching it we were convinced there was no way that big lumbering mass would flip. We were just waiting for the impact. Somehow he lands it on the flat and bounces off the thing. Our hearts were in our throat until he runs up to the top and throws his hands up. He willed that thing to happen. It was incredible.”
— Tes Sewell, X Games commentator

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