The notoriously contrived, made-for-television X Games finally get real.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

Dispatches, September 1998

The Snow is Fake, but the Air Totally Rocks
The notoriously contrived, made-for-television X Games finally get real.
By Kimberly Lisagor

Some might call it hype. But the next time a 110-foot snow cone towers over balmy San Diego, we challenge you not to gawk — which is exactly what 15,000 fans did when a wood chipper spit 20 tons of ice onto a massive refrigerated carpet for the staging of the Big Air snowboarding event at the X Games in June. “The stuff they used last year
sucked — it was definitely fake,” says snowboarder Jim Rippey, 27, an apparent connoisseur of the texture of pseudo-snow. “But now they’ve got it pretty dialed.”

Rippey’s generous appraisal of this year’s props applied equally to the competitors, many of whom logged some refreshingly impressive performances in the Games’ cornucopia of events. Bicycle stunt rider Dave Mirra, 24, twisted his way through a series of flashy midair contortions on the vert ramp to snatch three gold medals. And after injuring both ankles in pre-event practice,
20-year-old Brazilian skateboarder Rodil de Araujo ollied with liquid aplomb to a gold of his own. As for Rippey, he tied four ways for the coveted Big Air title, a tie that 22-year-old Kevin Jones proceeded to snap with a soaring aerial that sent him cartwheeling more than 50 feet. He stuck his landing perfectly and then thrust both fists into the air with a crisp alacrity that
seemed to punctuate the Games’ newfound legitimacy. “Any time you put something on TV, there are going to be cheesy things about it,” conceded Rippey. “But we’re just all stoked to be out here.”

promo logo