Does X Games Make Me a Cool Mom?

The photographer was desperately nonchalant as he talked with the female reporter next to him. As I worked on my laptop, one eye focused on the TV coverage scrolling at the front of the media center, it was impossible not to listen to the conversation behind me. He’d grabbed my ear earlier with chat about running (oh, he was working SO hard to impress) but he got my full attention with this:

You must be, like, the cool mom and all because you’re at X Games.

MotoX rider gives high fives to fans at X Games Austin 2016.
Fans get up close and personal with riders at MotoX during X Games Austin 2016. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

I couldn’t help it; my head swiveled for a peek at the woman’s reaction. She was quite young and appeared completely unmom-ish. Her expression of disgusted exasperation deepened as she muttered something that essentially translated to “stop talking ” before she got up and left. The 30-something guy slumped, dejected. Clearly, he’d expected a completely different reaction to that gem of a line.

Dude, I chuckled inwardly, save it for the 40-year-olds. Who might actually have children, children old enough to be awed by X Games reporting.

Or those 50-year-old women.

Like me.

Sunset and clouds at Circuit of The Americas during last X Games Austin 2016.
Sunset at X Games Austin 2016, look at the main venue from the Flat-Track Racing course. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Mom Loves X Games

View of the Big Air Ramp at X Games Austin 2015My oldest daughter recently got her motorcycle license, and I peppered her this week with texts, such as “NBD. Hanging out w Harley folks at Flat-Track Racing at X Games.”

Over the three years I covered X Games Austin, I name-dropped “Morgan Wade” in conversations. Showed my behind-the-scenes photos of assorted course construction. Shared arcane facts about height and medals and events. All of it, mostly, to glazed indifference.

My kids were politely appreciative but it wasn’t their thing. Sure, I got props for catching Metallica at X Games Austin 2015, but I would’ve gotten the same reaction had I seen them at the Erwin Center.

I have to admit: my children are a lot less awestruck by my X Games cred than I am.

Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with myself, and perhaps that’s the salient point. In the second half of life, I discovered action sports (formerly called “extreme sports” by oldsters who know a pre-ESPN world), something I never thought I’d enjoy.

Expanding horizons can be pretty mind-blowingly awesome.

Access to behind-the-scenes information truly brought the various sports to life for this geeky nerd. There’s plenty to related to as an athlete. And having in-depth conversations with Morgan Wade about why he does Big Air and what he loves about BMX made me feel the passion in that elite level of physical artistry.

Artistic sun shade at X Games Austin 2016.
So many opportunities for unexpected beauty at X Games Austin 2016, like this sun shade. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Oh, there’s a lot of artistry involved in X Games. The imagery at events is breathtaking. How can you not fall in love with the sight of someone gracefully and joyously defying gravity before a wide expanse of Texas sky?

This was Austin’s last year to host X Games – ESPN wants to push the date, and central Texas in July is just too hot for that kind of exposed concrete and dirt multi-day event. Another city means I’ll probably never see X Games live again. As much as I loved my media experience, I doubt I’d buy tickets and travel to be a spectator on the sidelines. TV makes everything so accessible (and inexpensive) from the couch.

So, thank you, X Games and ESPN, for a wonderful three-year ride. I had the time of my life.

And maybe, just maybe, that makes me a cool mom after all.

Storm clouds roll into Circuit of The Americas at X Games Austin 2016
Even when things didn’t go as planned, it was breathtaking. Storms on Saturday caused evacuation at X Games Austin 2016. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

My 2014–2016 X Games Coverage

Here’s a chronological list of my print and online X Games coverage. Click on the titles to read the articles. And I’ve thrown in a few of my photos from X Games Austin.

X Games Austin competitors Kyle Baldock, Morgan Wade, and Tom Pages at 2016 press conference.
That’s Morgan Wade, in the gray shirt. Press conferences were a great way to meet the athletes. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

“Making Texas Proud at the X Games” Austin Fit Magazine, May 2014 cover story

This issue came out right before the event, and as editor in chief, I wanted to connect Austin readers in a meaningful way to the X Games. Morgan Wade was the perfect fit (and I loved the other companion pieces I’d arranged to fill the magazine). Take a look at the print version on Issuu.com to get the entire magazine and actual layout.

Looking down the BMX Dirt ramp during construction at X Games Austin 2016.
Getting into the various courses was a thrill. This is the view from the top of the BMX Dirt ramp under construction at X Games Austin 2016. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

“Turning Austin’s COTA into the 2014 X Games” Austin Fit Magazine, May 29, 2014

This online piece was all about the magic behind taking a 3.1-mile Formula 1 track and turning it into an action sports wonderland. And then taking it all down.

Dark skies threaten Big Air at X Games Austin 2016.
Texas weather was a factor at some point in every X Games Austin. Big Air events were cancelled for the first time in 23 years at X Games Austin 2016. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

“X Games Austin: Big Crowds, Big Air, Big Wind” Austin Fit Magazine, June 8, 2014

Recaps are fun to write. I liked describing how the competition had gone and filling readers in on what to expect for the next day. Mother Nature was a big factor, and wind played a major role in BMX Big Air.

X Games Austin Flat-Track Racing course under construction in 2015
Tours with X Games’ Rich Bigge, who explained all the latest and greatest in course design, were amazing. Here’s the 2015 construction of the new Flat-Track Racing course. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

“You’re In for Big Air and High Speed at X Games Austin 2015” The Austinot, June 3, 2015

By 2015, I’d graduated from AFM and begun freelancing. X Games is an easy sell for a fitness magazine, but it’s a bit of a pitch to a hyper-local online magazine with a minimal sports presence. Thankful, The Austinot’s publisher Brittany Highland agreed to a “here’s what’s new for Austin” piece.

X Games Austin logo at entrance to Circuit of The Americas, next to Texas state flag.
The X Games Austin logo with its lone star was mirrored by the Texas state flag. #TexasProud Credit: Leah Nyfeler

“X Games and Austin Share a Sweet Goodbye” The Austinot, June 2, 2016

2016 was the last year for X Games Austin and, dammit, I was going to write about it. Again, a “know before you go” article, full of tips and info.

BMX rider Tom Pages silhouetted against at stormy sky at X Games Austin 2016.
It looked like the heavens dropped BMX rider Tom Pages from the sky during X Games Austin 2016. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

 

“X Games, ROT Rally Provide Flat-Track Racing Fix” The Austinot, June 6, 2016

The best stories to write are the ones that answer questions, and I wanted to know what would happen to the Flat-Track Racing venue at COTA. While I didn’t quite get my answer (they haven’t determined that yet), I did discover more about what Austin has to offer for this motorcycle sport aficionado.

Night finals of Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing at X Games Austin 2016.
Racing around the Flat Track at X Games Austin 2016, with the Circuit of The Americas tower lit against the night. Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Coming in July ~ I sat down with BMX champ and Austinite Chase Hawk, and I’ll share that conversation with The Austinot’s readers.

Giant Marvel skateboard at X Games Austin 2016.
Everything’s bigger in Texas. Goodbye, X Games; you’ll miss Austin. Credit: Leah Nyfeler
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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I’m a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I’ve come to learn it. In addition to my blog “Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life” at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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