Summer X Games 2001 :
The answer to mountain withdrawal during summer

by Christopher David Palmer photos by Jessie Maraschiello


Many have asked the age-old question that has been plaguing mankind for centuries on end. A question that the most brilliant minds of our time have pondered upon only to come up empty handed. A question that entails a mystery of changing seasons and progressing time. A question that took one week in Philadelphia, Pa. for me to answer. The riddle of "What is a skier supposed to do when the snow is gone?' Yes, many have speculated that knitting, judo classes, and trimming bonsai trees can fill the void that summer's lack of snow provides but nothing even comes close to the answer I found in Philly. I was asked to accompany a gorgeous female to the 2001 X Games to spend two weekends covering the aggressive sports festival and I couldn't refuse. Little did I know that an enigma was about to be unlocked.

I arrived at the First Union Center having no idea what to expect on my inaugural trip to the world-famous X Games. After entering the stadium lot, we learned that the legendary Tony Hawk would be skating with Andy MacDonald in the Men's Vert Skateboard doubles. This was going to be a very good trip, indeed. When the rhetoric of picking up our press credentials was finished, my partner in crime Jessie Maraschiello and I made our way to the southernmost lot of the First Union Centerto view the Men's Aggressive In-Line competition. That's when it hit me. I have been a rollerblader for most of my life and a skier for just over a few years now, but I never made the connection between the two sports. I had always figured that the concrete craziness that is rollerblading had no relation to the white powder we all love so much. The truth is, the motions and physics of in-line skating mimic that of skiing so closely that you'd think the two were one in the same, in opposite seasons of course. The answer was now clear to me and it took the X Games to associate the two. Aggressive sports are the answer. They provide the same muscle workouts as skiing and snowboarding, and at the same time allow the athlete to keep up on technique. Mainstream sports will also get you toned and in shape, but are a far cry from carving down your favorite mountain. For me, nothing simulates skiing better than strapping on my skates and heading for the local hill.

There will always be a place in my heart for downhill skiing, but rollerblading has many more dimensions than one can even fathom. For the leisurely skier, in-line skating can provide a relaxing escape into nature offering sights of leafy green foliage that we rarely see on the slopes. Leg muscles are strengthened from keeping up the pace and stopping, while the arms are used to achieve and maintain balance. Real thrill-seekers can skate the concrete jungle of a local city that will offer rails and staircases that can be tricked off of the get the adrenaline pumping. Whether you session at a skate park or elude the cops during city skating, aggressive in-line affords the skater opportunities for creativity that your dusty, summer-bored skis cannot.

The aggressive in-line competition was a cavalcade of double backflips, corkscrews, and 900 spins. The tournament allowed big names such as Matt Salerno and Aaron Fineberg the chance to show their stuff in a 45-second free-for-all where not a single ramp or pipe was safe. Jaren Grob from Orem, Utah walked away with the gold while Louie Zamora and Franky Morales took the silver and bronze, respectively. When the results were in, Jessie and I made tracks to the arena where the Men's Vert Skateboard doubles were being held. We entered the stadium to see the Hawk and Andy Mac skating in tandem within the confides of the halfpipe. Tony Hawk wasn't scheduled to skate at the X Games this year, so the sight of his graceful tricks almost brought a tear to my eye. The duo easily took the gold home and put on a hell of a show doing it.

Seeing the skateboarding reminded me of what I call the Board Trinity. Now listen up snowboarders, because this directly relates to something you could be doing during the summer when your stick is locked up in storage. The Board Trinity all started with the surfboard and this fad caught on all across California and soon spread to almost every other part of the world with a gnarly wave. Surfers really had nothing to do when the weather wasn't right (sound familiar?) so they invented the skateboard to pass the time before they could go out and surf again. Pretty soon, board riding was possible in every season except winter. Thus, the snowboard was created and the board trinity was complete. It's hard to find a snowboarder that doesn't skateboard in the summer, but if you're one of the few who don't, I suggest you take up this hobby to sharpen up your board skills for the winter powder.

The final competition we saw was the Men's BMX Dirt Stunt, which afforded the very talented Jessie to snap some fantastic shots of greats such as Allen Cooke, T.J. Lavin, and Cory Nastazio. After all was said and done, Ryan Nyquist was the man of the evening and snatched up the gold by using some of the sickest tricks in his arsenal. I really couldn't link BMX biking with any winter sports, but it was still wicked to see these athletes catch as much air as they did.

Just as the summer and winter X Games go hand in hand, so do skiing and snowboarding with in-line and skateboarding. There's really no better simulator of carving down the mountain on your tools than doing the same thing down a paved hill with a different set of tools. Skateboarding and in-line skating are a relatively cheap and easy way of keeping you in shape during the summer months while keeping your favorite ski spot in mind the whole time. Remember, ski bums are only bums if they're sitting around doing nothing.