- Alyssa Roenigk, ESPN The Magazine senior writer
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[Ed.'s Note: The Action Sports Report is a weekly blog that covers sports from skateboarding to snowboarding to FMX.]
The Sundance Film Festival, currently taking place in Park City, Utah, attracts all sorts to this usually quiet mountain town. Hollywood's elite (and wannabe elite) are in town promoting, premiering, buying and sometimes even watching films. On the flip, many of the country's best skiers and snowboarders are in town to practice in the Park City halfpipe, which is one of only two 22-foot Olympic-size halfpipes in the country.
"Oh yeah, it's crunch time," says Gretchen Bleiler in a sarcastic tone—until she realizes she's only half-joking. Besides being the halfpipe defending champ, Bleiler has the added pressure of being the hometown favorite in Aspen. "It's on," she says.
So of course, on the Friday morning before X Games competition, Bleiler and a few of her peers were at the Oakley swag house doing what all professional athletes do before the biggest event of the year—entertaining celebrities. As they wolfed down oatmeal and cups of Starbucks, actress Missi Pyle was being fitted for new gear. Pyle, who flew in from her honeymoon in Costa Rica to take part in Oakley's Ride With a Pro session (and get tons of new gear), was premiering her new all-chick comedy Spring Breakdown, which stars SNL cast members Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch. "We finished the movie two years ago," Pyle says. "I thought it was going straight to video. I haven't even seen it yet. I'm not even sure what I'm going to say at the press conference in a couple hours."
After an hour and a half, Pyle was outfitted in head-to-ankle Oakley (her boots were K2) and toting a new K2 snowboard. "I'm even wearing your underwear!" she yells to Bleiler. "Well, not your underwear. That would be weird. Your signature line!" The chick has chops.
After a slew of photos and the addition of an OK! Magazine editor to the crew, Bleiler and fellow halfpipe rider Elena Hight grabbed their boards and followed the caravan to the Main Street lift at Park City Mountain. At the mountain, they took a few requisite photos and then handed Pyle, a first-timer, off to slopestyle heavy Laura Hadar and then headed to the halfpipe. Sponsor obligations completed, now their real work could begin.
To follow Bleiler, Hight and Friends as they compete at Winter X, click here. —A.R.
Stevie William's New Skate Website
There are few who could forget the soaring cinematic achievement that was Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol, what with Steve Guttenberg's spine tingling one-liners or Bubba Smith's tortured genius. This is after all the movie that gave us David Spade. Even though the movie received a dubious 00% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, PA4, in a sense, helped start a skateboarding movement. The film's producers sought to capitalize on the skateboarding boom of the mid-Eighties by making some of the characters very capable street shredders. And those scenes of the misfits tearing up downtown LA made it into the North Philadelphia living room of eight-year-old Stevie Williams.
"That was my introduction to skateboarding," says Williams. "It made me want to go out and try it."
Of course Stevie did try it and went on to become one of the sport's most celebrated core skaters. Skating around local downtown Philly monuments people called he and his rag-tag friends "dirty ghetto kids." Known for his disdain for skating's commercialization (though he says that's been overblown) Williams vowed to never let go of his inner dirty ghetto kid and even named his skateboard company DGK.
Williams oath to underground culture remains intact and is evident in his latest venture Steelo Hero, a skate website dedicated to underground urban skaters, artists, music and fashion that launches this month." I wanted this to be a place where everything in that world that appeals to me comes together," he says. If you're wondering Steelo is a phonetic version of the Spanish word estilo, which means style. This site has so much of it you'll feel a little uncool at first. But peep the work of designer Benny Gold or the DGK mixtapes and you'll come around in no time. There's also a pretty cool piece on Darren Harper and the DC street scene. (Obama isn't the only one doing work in Washington.)
Who would have known all this would spring out of a low-brow 80's comedy. By the way, it's been rumored that Spade will reprise the roll of the wise-cracking Kyle in the upcoming Police Academy 8. Life just keeps getting better. —C.P.
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