X Games 2019 @ Oslo, Norway

Words: Miljan Milekić

How do you even start writing about something like this? In just eleven hours we’ve seen so much that it will take days, if not weeks to comprehend. A minute the lights go down at the skatepark, they go up above the Big Air, or the Moto X course, and vice versa. We had just enough time to take a deep breath, and the next madness was on. As someone who was dreaming of visiting X Games for more than a decade, I felt like a kid in a candy store. And honestly, there’s hardly a better way to spend a day, than be surrounded by some of the best extreme sports athletes in the world.

Possibly the biggest reason for our attending was the skateboard contest, and all the guys and girls made it worth it. From the qualifications to the finals, we saw some massive runs, even bigger tricks, and purely insane energy. It was Ishod Wair who came on top in the end, winning his first gold, and the first X Games medal since Austin 2016 where he took the bronze. He was on fire during the whole day, leaving the best for when it mattered the most. Luan Oliveira was a close second, showing both skills and style we all know and love him for. The defending champion Kelvin Hoefler completed the podium by winning third place.

However, it was a couple more guys who delivered some memorable runs. An X Games rookie, Gustavo Ribeiro is for sure one of them, and I could really watch this guy ride all day long. Much like Jamie Foy in qualifications, Yuto Horigome dropped some massive tricks, which would make amazing runs if he succeed to complete them. Norwegian rider Kevin Bækkel was in a similar position, finishing last in qualifications, but showing some serious skills, and dropping runs that, if he managed to pull off, would be some of my favorites in the contest. However, he had a huge weekend anyway, with the premiere of his ‘Higher Power’ part just a night before, so he probably wasn’t bothered by the result that much.

The women’s finals also brought some crazy runs, and it was fine lines between Mariah Duran‘s stylishness, Pamela Rosa‘s bangers, and Aori Nishimura‘s surgical precision. However, in the end, it was a Japanese machine that took the gold, with Rosa and Duran following. P.S. we saw Mariah on Sunday, skating and filming in one of the Oslo parks, so look closely at her socials. Brazilian wonderkid, the 11-year-old Rayssa Leal came in fourth, once again showing why everybody is crazy about her, and why, along with Momiji Nishiya who came in sixth, the future of women skateboarding looks so bright. I’d also have to give a shout-out to Dutch rider Candy Jacobs, whose style is just a joy to watch, as well as a qualifier from Norway – Tonje Pedersen. The X Games rookie obviously had a little bit of stage freight, debuting in such a huge event, but she finally managed to overcome it and land her third run.

Another event that was a major part of us being there is a Snowboard Big Air. With a surreal setup that combined both inside and outside of the Telenor Arena, it was just mad. It was so scary just to watch all those girls and guys dropping in that I just developed a whole new level of respect for each and every person who tried that ramp. In the women’s contest, it was Austrian shredder, Anna Gasser that blew out the competition with the first two massive, massive runs, using the third only as a “victory lap.” Kokomo Murase and Julia Marino completed the podium, while Jamie Anderson, a legend, and one of my favorite snowboarders came in fifth, just behind another great rider – Laurie Blouin. Annika Morgan did finish last, but the 17-year-old is definitely the one to count on. In all three runs, she dropped some serious heat but unfortunately couldn’t land them the way she wanted. Oh yeah, and knowing she’s Ethan Morgan‘s sister, I highly expect some crazy stuff from her in the future.

The men’s contest offered some incredible runs, but in my books, it was all about Sven Thorgren, and especially Max Parrot. No disrespect to the other guys, especially Yuki Kadono and Chris Corning who finished in third and fourth place, but the before-mentioned duo was just on another level. Although it was Yuki who had the single highest score, the overall impression was a bit different. With huge combos in runs no.1 and no.3, Thorgren did enough for the silver while reminding me why he’s one of my favorite riders. However, it was Max Parrot who stole the show. Diagnosed last year, he came into this contest just two months after finishing his last session of chemo and being cancer-free. With three purely insane runs, he showed that he’s more hungry than ever and so happy to be back on his board. Nobody deserved the win more than him, and to be honest, I don’t think it was any doubt about it.

The Ski Big Air wasn’t far behind when it comes to excitement, in both men’s and women’s contests. It was Tess Ledeux, Giulia Tanno, and Mathilde Gremaud who earned podium spots in the ladies category, while Alex Hall, Henrik Harlaut, and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand did the same in the men’s category. I was a bit sad not to see Colline Ballet-Baz not ride, but unfortunately, she had to pull out after Friday practice, as her knee still hasn’t hell enough. However, you can still read our interview with her HERE.

When it comes to Moto X, much like a freestyle ski, it’s not the sport I’m very familiar with, but I enjoyed all three contests more than I expected I would. And it’s for a reason. The Best Trick contest came in first, and it was dominated by Australians. Jacko Strong took the gold with his double backflip combo, with just two points in front of Rob Adelberg who finished second, and less than three than Josh Sheehan who took the bronze. Even Clinton Moore who was fourth went over 91, and Luc Ackermann who took the fifth place was over 89.

The best whip contest was dominated by Jarryd McNeil, Genki Watanabe, and Tyler Bereman, but the session had sort of a bittersweet taste because of Tom Parsons‘ heavy crash. He was transferred straight to the hospital, but he’s all right and expected to be back soon. The last event of the evening was the Moto X High Air contest, and it was Corey Creed who came on top. He was the only one who went above 12m, with Axell Hodges being close, but not close enough. The bronze went to Tyler Bereman.

Apart from the contests, X Games offered so much more. Although this year we couldn’t see any international music acts, I’m happy I got to see Norwegian pop punks Sløtface, who, at least in my books had the show of the day. The rest of the lineup consisted of another two Norwegian acts – electro pop collective Team Me, as well as BigBang, a band fronted by former skateboarder Øystein Greni. They got the chance to close the event, throwing a bit longer set including ‘Glory Chord,’ a song that pretty much became the unofficial anthem of the day.

However, the biggest impression I’ll bring back from the X Games is the vibe itself. Not only did we get to see some of the best riders in the world, but the fashion we did was something else. Watching skateboarding finals from the edge of the skatepark, while likes of Colline Ballet-Baz, Anna Gasser, and Jamie Anderson, are standing next to me, doing the same, or sitting next to Halldor Hegalson in the Monster Energy Sky Lounge and discussing Big Air finals as they happen is not something you can normally do. But it’s something that makes this event so special, and why I’ll give my best to come back. Again and again.

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