[splitpost intro="true" numbers="true" position="both"]
The annual circus that is the X Games has packed up its tents, put its lions back in their cages and disappeared into the night - at least until next year.
Over the course of past week we've followed it in some detail, live-blogging the men's and women's slopestyle finals and watching hours of coverage (as well as enduring innumerable ads for America's Navy, Jeep and Wonga dot com).
The X Games provided a very interesting sneak peak of what might go down at the Olympics.
With the competition being held so close to the start of the Sochi Games (where the snowboarding kicks off with slopestyle qualifiers a week today!) it provided a very interesting sneak peak of what might go down at the Olympics.
And given that many of the results weren't what we expected, we learned a fair bit - not least that the medals in Sochi are far from a foregone conclusion... [part title="Max Parrot may be the man to beat in Slopestyle at Sochi"]
We knew Max Parrot was shit-hot before this weekend (after all, he'd beaten a talent-packed field at the the O'Neill Evolution last year) but what we didn't quite realise was just how shit hot he really is.
Not only did he steal the show and the gold medal in the Big Air, but he then went on to beat hot favourite Mark McMorris in the slopestyle, despite some slightly controversial judging in McMorris' favour.
With a super-tech rail game (what is it about French Canadians and being amazing on rails?!), some stylish doubles and the ability to string together back-to-back triple corks, he looked untouchable.
The result blew the slopestyle (which some were claiming would be a straight contest between McMorris and Shaun White) wide open.
McLovin may still be the favourite in the eyes of the mainstream media, and may have the benefit of a few year's experience, but if the jumps in Sochi are good enough for triple corks to be thrown Max Parrot may be the Canadian to beat.
[part title="Billy Morgan Can do Back to Back Triple Corks"]
That's not of course to say that no-one can do it. In fact, we're seriously excited about Brit Billy Morgan's chances.
He might not have qualified for finals (though we thought he was a bit unlucky) but he practised alongside the finalists as a reserve rider, and threw down this. Yep, that's back to back triples right there - the same back to back triple corks in fact that won Parrot the gold.
Billy would need to string these together with a front double and a double backside rodeo, but given he'd already done those two together with a cab double and a backside triple in qualifying, he could potentially have it in him.
Also, just look at Billy's final triple here - as contributing editor Sam said: "Billy's is different from everyone else's 'cos every else throws the third invert as they're coming down, Billy's is so quick he's still going upwards!" That could stand him in seriously good stead if the jumps in Sochi aren't the biggest...
[part title="Silje Norendal could upset Ms Anderson in Women's Slopestyle"]
We'd seen Silje Norendal beat Jamie Anderson's best run in Tignes, so we knew she had it in her. But the fact that she hadn't really won anything massive since made us wonder whether this was a one off. In Saturday's women's slopestyle she showed us definitively that that wasn't the case.
And while Jamie Anderson went for a 900 on her final run, she didn't really look close to it. Which made us wonder, if Silje stomps her run in Sochi, does Jamie have the tricks to answer it?
Spencer O'Brien is of course the other woman to watch out for, but if we were betting men and fancied slightly longer odds than the favourite Anderson, it's Silje we'd put our money on.
[part title="ESPN Can Actually Be Pretty Moving"]
We're not massive fans of the petrol-head past-time that is snowmobile freestyle here at Whitelines, and we wouldn't normally really go in for evangelical Christian rhetoric, or American made-for-TV montages either.
But watching the Moore brothers' father (a great bear of a Texan who you wouldn't imagine cries too often) tear up as he talked about how Colten "prayed to Caleb" (his older brother, who tragically died at last year's X Games) left us with a genuine lump in our throat.
We don't wanna let our hard-hearted hater image slip or anything, but that was genuinely moving. And a fitting tribute. Well done ESPN.
[part title="Snowmobile X is Fucking Mental"]
Roaring engines, Monster girls and the most insane mass start we've ever seen - this is one crazy sport.
When we imagined Snowmobile X we sort of pictured five riders racing at once, not 25.
And it's not as if this is BMX where a crash might mean being hit by a 15 kilo bike, these are 200kg machines, with engines as big as a small car.
Check the bit where the dude flies off at one minute in, and narrowly avoids catching a fellow sledder's skids in the back of his neck. If we were him, we'd be absolutely shitting ourselves!
[part title="Bode Merrill is a Nutcase"]
Bode Merrill's gold medal in the X Games Real Snow competition was well deserved.
Although in the end no-one won the public choice award (because of a "vote tampering" scandal apparently) we'd actually predicted Bode wouldn't get it.
But at the same time we thought his part stood a good chance of getting the nod from the judges. It was one of, if not the best in the competition, featuring frankly insane one-footers, crazy redirects (like the one at 0.50) and that mental rodeo to front board over a fence.
The man is insanely talented and also (quite clearly) just insane. But what a part though eh?
[part title="iPod Is Holding Something Back... We Think"]
Iouri Podladtchikov may have qualified through first in the pipe, but he could only manage a 6th place finish in the finals. He did try and throw the Yolo Flip, but we couldn't help feeling that both here and at the European Open the week before, he was coasting slightly.
Neither run looked as tech as the one he so nearly landed at last year's X Games, and we can't help feeling that should have improved since then. So what's up, is iPod holding something back? Keeping his powder dry? Back to back Yolos perhaps?
[part title="Shaun White is not nearly as confident as he was in 2010"]
In 2010 Shaun White was at the midst of what's referred to in music as his "imperial phase". Like Oasis circa What's The Story... everything he touched turned to gold. He could have put down a run of B-grade tricks that would've outsold The Masterplan, and he was quite simply untouchable - in the pipe at least.
That year he rocked up at the X Games a few weeks before the Olympics and proceeded to completely cow the opposition with this run, which included a recently-learned trick that no-one could do.
His performance oozed confidence, and sent a clear message to the rest of the Olympic hopefuls: "I own the halfpipe".
The fact that Shaun opted not to show up and do the same at this year's X Games suggests to us that he's not feeling nearly as confident in his preparations this time around.
That might have more to do with him feeling he's got work to do in slopestyle rather than any fears about the other pipe riders. But as his self-funded documentary showed, he was thrown by iPod landing the Yolo before he did, and with Ayumu trying triples, perhaps he's feeling even the pipe isn't a foregone conclusion.
[part title="Danny Davis is Rad..."]
Of course Shaun not being at the X Games meant that we were treated to the sight of Danny Davis standing on top of the podium.
Strangely, he's never won an X Games halfpipe gold before, but what made this victory all the more special was the nature of his win. His run was effortlessly stylish and included a switch method.
Would it have been technical enough to win had Shaun showed up? If we're honest, probably not, and we're unsure if Danny will have the tricks to beat Mr White in Sochi. But what we do know is regardless of where he finishes, we're going to enjoy watching him ride.
[part title="...As are Halldor Helgason and Sage Kotsenberg"]
In an era in which any rider who wants to win has to throw triple corks, it was entertaining to see two X Games invitees who seemingly weren't fussed about winning. Or even making the finals.
In both the Big Air and the Slopestyle Qualifiers, Halldor Helgason and his good mate Sage Kotsenburg refused to play the triple game, instead pissing about with tricks like a super stylish switch back 5 and (in big air) a massive method.
Of course neither of them got anywhere near the finals, but that didn't matter - they'd made their point and set people talking.
[part title="It's a Real Shame Chloe Kim can't Go to the Olympics"]
We're predicting that women's Olympic halfpipe will come down to a straight contest between Kelly Clark and Torah Bright. And if we're honest, we have a feeling that Kelly (who's concentrating purely on pipe) will finally manage to win an elusive Olympic gold again, having missed out on the past two chances.
We'll enjoy watching that contest for sure, but we are slightly disappointed that Chloe Kim won't be allowed to compete with the pair of them. She exploded onto the senior circuit this year with an amazing result at the Dew Tour, which she followed up with a silver medal at her first ever X Games.
But at just 13 years of age, she's apparently too young to be selected for Sochi.
And the thing about Chloe is that her runs aren't just technical, they're damn stylish too. Like a female Ayumu Hirano, she goes huge out of the pipe, and has tricks like a front seven double grab in her locker.