ESPN's 20th ESPY Awards took over the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles yesterday, with troves of sports elite turning out for the red carpet event. The ESPY's, which stands for for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, honors a broad range of athletes from Best Breakout Performance (Jeremy Lin) to Best Driver (Tony Stewart) and 30 other sport-specific awards in between.
Shaun White nabbed his fifth consecutive ESPY for Best Action Sports Athlete by beating out Travis Rice, Kelly Slater, and Ryan Villopoto. In 2011, White earned the first-ever perfect score in halfpipe at the Winter X Games in Aspen. Six months earlier, at the summer event, White won Gold in skateboard vert, marking his first win in the event since 2007. These accolades, coupled with his ubiquitous marketing, made him the go-to guy for online voters.
On the women's side, Jamie Anderson from South Lake Tahoe, California, took home her first ESPY. Anderson dominated the slopestyle scene in 2011 by winning Gold at nearly every event she entered. Anderson edged out Kelly Clark, Kaya Turski, and Carissa Moore for Best Female Action Sports Athlete. During the event, Anderson showcased her excitement by instagraming photos from the red carpet and tweeting, "Honored to be at the ESPY Awards! Nas just came out!"
Congrats to Jamie and Shaun.
For more ESPY coverage, head to ESPN.
Action sports mega-star Shaun White has decided to skip the summer X Games, which begin next week in Los Angeles, presumably because he has been too busy to focus on skateboarding.
A precise reason was not given by White or his publicist, but the red-haired champion of last year's X Games' vert competition has been spending lots of time in New York and was even spotted recently with Bar Rafaeli, Maxim's "hottest woman in the world," dancing and smooching in a SoHo club.
Besides that, Nate Hoppes of GrindTv points out that White has been preoccupied with several business ventures, including his Target clothing line and his Shaun White Supply Co. product line.
Though White is a major draw at the summer X Games, it's no secret that he takes snowboarding far more seriously, in part because snowboarding is an Olympic sport and White is the greatest superpipe rider on the planet.
White, who has dominated the sport at the Winter X Games, earned Olympic gold medals in superpipe in 2006 and 2010. At the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, he'll try for a third and also attempt to strike gold in Slopestyle as that discipline makes its Olympics debut.
With White out of the X Games, his greatest rival in the vert tamp, Pierre-Luc Gagnon, will be heavily favored to win the gold medal.
Gagnon is quoted in USA Today as saying, "I definitely had a feeling that [the X Games] didn't seem like his main priority, and he's not the kind of guy to show up and wing it. He had a great snowboard season and now maybe he just wants to take it easy, enjoy life."
-- Top image is courtesy of Vianneey Tisseau / ESPN. Bottom image shows White in a winning performance at last year's summer X Games
Shaun White announced earlier today he will be skipping X Games LA to focus on, well, the list goes on and on. White has his hand in several business ventures including his home-line with Target, his product line Shaun White Supply Co., and his aspiring acting career. Oh, yeah, and he still managed to complete the first ever perfect run at Winter X Games while going on to win Gold in Tignes, France in both Superpipe and Slopestyle.
Reportedly Shaun has been spending most of his time in New York these days, and last time we checked there aren't too many vert ramps in Manhattan. Without enough time on his skateboard Shaun feels he's not prepared to defend his vert Gold medal against rival Pierre-Luc Gagnon.
Last year's competition featured a heated rivalry between the two as they went back and forth exchanging excellent runs, which ended with White throwing down the winning score on his last run.
In an interview with ESPN, Pierre-Luc Gagnon expressed indifference about White's decision, stating, "I'm just focused on what I need to do to be on top of my own skateboarding. And right now, I feel great," he said. "I'm skating every day. I've got my tricks down. I'm just doing what I've been doing for the past 15 years."
Although the rivalry helped the sport prosper over the past three years, there are plenty of young competitors with the potential to take Gold in this year's skate events. And PLG will have his work cut-out against some of the younger talent that is just now coming into form.
In January, a nagging ankle injury sidelined Shaun White from the slopestyle competition at the X Games in Aspen. The next night, the ailment seemed to subside and White went on to earn the first perfect score in superpipe history.
Following this, many questioned whether the ankle injury was the culprit that kept White out of competition or if nerves played a part. Prior to that contest, he hadn't placed in slopestyle since 2009, and even failed to make the finals in both slope events he entered in 2011.
But winning is simply in White's nature, so when he started to slip behind in slope, he knew what he had to do. White has made it his mission to learn knew tricks and was spotted perfecting them in Breckenridge, Keystone, and Northstar throughout this season.
His tenacious training and desire to be the best paid off at the Winter X Games in Tignes, France.
White made a triumphant debut in Tignes, and stomped a run that included included three double corks, including a switch double cork 1080 and two double cork 1260s, for a top score of 97.
Following the contest White said, "I think I've finally caught up and I'm happy to be back."
Mark McMorris and Eric Willett rounded out the podium. McMorris stomped a run that included frontside cab 1080 and a frontside double cork 1080, and Willett stomped two double cork 1080s and threw down on the rail sections.
After falling in his first two runs, Willett rallied to take third with his last. Following the event he stated, "I'm happy to make the podium but I think one of the Norwegians should have been in my place -- they both rode so well. But I'm stoked I was able to keep my podium streak here."
On the women's side of things Jamie Anderson continued her dominating ways. The 21-year old Tahoe Native scored a 98 on her second run that featured a cab 270 to boardslide and a tail blunt in the rail section, cab 7, back 5, front 7, and ended with a tail blunt 270.
Anderson has been upping ante all season, and her performance at Euro X proved she is progressing the sport.
Spencer O'Brien also rode extremely well and earned second with a run that included backside 5, switch back 5, and front 7.
Enni Rukajarvi took third after stomping a back 5, a cab 5, and a front 7.
As the sun begins to set over the Alps, the third annual Winter X Games Tignes comes to close, marking the last major Slopestyle contest of the 2011-2012 season.
Watch white's winning run:
Jamie Anderson's winning run:
Photos: John Weaver, Vans Snow
With baguettes and wine clasped in their hands, a group of five Frenchmen made their way to the bottom of the superpipe for the Men's Finals at the Winter X Games in Tignes, France. When asked what they were looking forward to, they didn't mention tricks they hoped to see, or who their favorite rider was, but instead exclaimed "qui, qui, we're pumped for life!"
Now in it's third year, it seems that the main difference between Euro X Games and its American counterpart is the mentality of competitors and fans. While a competitive nature still remains, the atmosphere of the French village encourages an appreciation for the finer things in life-- like simply eating a baguette and watching snowboarding with friends.
The action in Europe is also on par with the American version, as the world's best pipe riders stomped many progressive tricks.
Following a stellar performance and first place finish, Shaun White was asked what he thought about the Euro X Games, and stated, "To everybody here tonight, this is far better than Aspen."
Many other competitors and industry folks shared White's sentiment. Here are the top reasons why Euro X Games 2012 is better than Aspen X Games as told by the sport's elite.
1) "The setting: Tignes, France is in the middle of the Alps, so there's amazing backcountry surrounding it, and the conditions allow for an pristine pipe and great vibes." - Gary Greenshields, Quiksilver Team Manager and former pro snowboarder.
2) "The European fan base makes this contest great. They are all excited and the atmosphere is awesome." - Louie Vito, second place in Men's Halfpipe
3) "The apres scene is so much better here than in Aspen. In Tignes, you can drink huge steins of beer, and have awesome dance parties on top of tables, and still watch the contest. Never would happen in Aspen." Fredirk Austbo, Olympic Snowboarder
4) "It's the end of the season, and everyone is riding their very best. So, on one hand it's the most competitive [event] of the year. But it's in France, so everyone's here to have a good time." -Larry Nunez, Vans Snow, former Editor of Snowboarder Magazine
As the last major halfpipe contest of the year, the Euro X Games proved the perfect way to cap-off the competitive season.
Check out the winning runs and full details from the contest here.
Photo: ESPN Event Media
Shaun's Winning Run
Kelly Clark's Winning Run