Action sports at the 2014 ESPYS
Action sports at the 2014 ESPYS
It's summertime at L.A. Live, and that can mean only one thing: The ESPYS (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly awards) are back. This year, the ESPYS are being hosted by Drake, and included in the mix are categories such as best male and female action sports athletes, as well as action sports athletes in the best male and female U.S. Olympian categories. What follows is a collection of photos depicting those athletes.
In January, Tucker Hibbert, the winningest snowmobile racer in history, won his seventh consecutive X Games SnoCross gold medal, pushing his X Games medal count to 12. (That's also the first seven-peat in Winter X Games history.) But Hibbert, nominated for the best male action sports athlete, is not just an X Games athlete. Also in January, Hibbert broke the all-time victories record in the SnoCross National series, and he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
This was another solid year for halfpipe snowboarder and perennial champion Kelly Clark. In January, she scored an X Games Aspen four-peat in the pipe and won her 12th career X Games medal. She earned a bronze medal at the Olympics the following month. Clark is nominated for an ESPY for best female action sports athlete.
Ryan Villopoto is the only dirt bike mounted athlete to grab a nomination in the best male action sports athlete category. Earlier this year, Villopoto won his fourth consecutive AMA Supercross title, and last year, he won both the AMA Supercross and Motocross year-end titles. Villopoto chose to sit out the 2014 AMA Motocross season to undergo knee surgery (see photo, far right), but he is undoubtedly one of the most dominant riders to grace a dirt bike in the past decade.
The owner of two ASP world titles, Carissa Moore has asserted herself as a force to be reckoned with in competitive surfing. Growing up in Hawaii, by the time she was 12 years old she was beating some of the top professional women on the talent-rich island. Not more than a decade later she's considered to be the best female surfer on the planet. And while two titles is nice, one gets the feeling she's just coming into her own and bigger things are on the horizon. Moore began her 2014 campaign by locking up wins at two of the first three events and now leads the ASP Women's World Tour rankings. Moore is nominated for the best female action sports athlete at the 2014 ESPYS.
At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, halfpipe snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington edged defending champ Torah Bright of Australia and American teammate and gold-medal favorite Kelly Clark to win her first Olympic gold. "To come out on top, I couldn't believe it," Farrington said. She is nominated for best female Olympian.
In January, Maddie Bowman won her second straight gold medal in Ski SuperPipe at X Games Aspen 2014. A month later, she won gold in the debut of halfpipe skiing at the Sochi Olympics. She's nominated for an ESPY for both best female Olympian and best female action sports athlete.
Freeskier David Wise has proven to be unstoppable in the halfpipe. In January, he earned a three-peat at X Games Aspen. And in February, he won the first-ever gold medal in halfpipe skiing at the Winter Olympics. For that kind of domination, he's nominated for an ESPY for two categories: best male Olympian and best male action sports athlete.
Jamie Anderson has been a dominating force in women's snowboard slopestyle for years; 2014 was no different. In February, the four-time X Games gold medalist (and recent ESPN the Magazine Body Issue cover girl) won her sport's first Olympic gold at the Sochi Games. She secured ESPYS nominations for both best female action sports athlete and best female Olympian.
Skateboarder Nyjah Huston is up for a nomination in the best male action sports athlete category, and the nomination is well deserved. In the past few months, Huston has been nominated for Thrasher Magazine's Skater of the Year award, won men's street gold at X Games Austin, and racked up two wins at the most recent Street League competitions. To date, he has won more money than any professional skateboarder in history.
Motocross rider Vicki Golden turned heads in 2013 when she became the first woman to be invited to compete in Moto X Best Whip at X Games, and her momentum has continued into 2014. She received another invite to compete in Best Whip at X Games Austin, and although she didn't medal, Golden's skills on a dirt bike continue to grow. She's added wall rides to her repertoire, and continues to excel in all walks of motocross, from arenacross to freestyle. Golden is nominated for best female action sports athlete.
Snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won his sport's first slopestyle Olympic gold medal at the Sochi Games, unveiling a trick that he literally had never tried in competition. He went into the Olympics an underdog: Other than a victory at an Olympic qualifier, it was the first major win of Kotsenburg's career. He is nominated for best male Olympian.
Year in and year out, Grant "Twiggy" Baker, nominated for best male action sports athlete, is one of the hardest charging surfers in the world. In 2013-14, all of the hard work paid off when he was crowned Big Wave world champion. The tenacious South African has already made the final at the Billabong Pico Alto big-wave event and has his eyes set on defending his title.
Slopestyle skier Joss Christensen, who's nominated for best male Olympian, led an American sweep at the Olympic debut of ski slopestyle at the Sochi Games. "That was my dream, to be a part of this Olympics, then see where life takes me," Christensen said.