Monday August 24th, 2015

Welcome back to Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports​. This week tragedy strikes in Hood River, Aaron Gwin wraps up a world title and more.​

In the Drivers Seat

Sporting bleached blonde hair and one of the most ironic black mustaches of all time, Luan Oliveira captured back-to-back Street League Titles in Newark, N.J., over the weekend. He riled up the crowd with his 360 Kickflip to Nose Slide to Big Spin, scoring a 9.5 and sealing his victory over Nyjah Huston with the most technical run of the day. Huston, who obviously needed a huge score to overtake Oliveira, took a nasty wipeout during a Backside Kickflip to Fakie Nosegrind attempt. It’s a rarity to see Huston, an extremely agile skater, fall that hard. Kelvin Hoefler, who won last weekend on the Dew Tour, finished third.


Downhill Dreams

On the rugged trails of Val di Sole, Aaron Gwin sealed up his UCI Mountain Bike World Championship with a victory in the final downhill of the season. Gwin had a huge save earlier this year on his way to his third world title when he won a downhill event in Austria despite breaking a chain. Gwin’s victory wasn’t guaranteed. South Africa’s Greg Minnaar had a shot at the World Title as well until he went down hard, mid-course. Gwin was the only American to finish in the top ten.


Paradise Lost

Protecting 431 square miles of wilderness for future generations is never a bad thing. But unfortunately for mountain bikers—who aren’t allowed in these designated areas—a virtual paradise of riding was lost, seemingly forever, when President Obama signed into law the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness Bill. The International Mountain Biking Association put millions into fighting the law, basing a large part of their argument on studies that state equestrian use is far more detrimental to the environment than mountain biking and that bikers cause no more harm than hikers, which are both allowed in wilderness areas. Many mountain bikers backed Obama’s plan to designate the area a national monument, which would have protected more land while still allowing two-wheel, non-motorized access. But it’s because of the monument threat that the bill flew through a Republican-lead congress unabated. Sun Valley’s Rebecca Rusch, a professional endurance mountain biker, pretty much summed up the sentiments of cyclists everywhere when she told Outside magazine, “My heart is broken, and the politics have left a bitter taste in my mouth.”


Lost Soul

In what should have been a glorious weekend of downwind paddling in Hood River, Ore., ended tragically after 20-year-old Andres Pombo of Miami, Fla., disappeared Friday during practice runs on the course. Hundreds of standup paddlers had gathered for the annual Gorge Paddle Challenge in the small outdoor Mecca on the Columbia River for one of the mainland’s best downwind paddle races.

The Columbia in Hood River is a massive body of water, literally hundreds of yards wide, creating the border between Oregon on the south, and Washington on the northern shore. Athletes have long come to the small town an hour east of Portland to enjoy kite- and windsurfing as well as kayaking, mountain biking, snow riding and other sports. Wind traveling west to east creates incredible swell—there’s footage of windsurfers catching proper waves in the middle of the river—that paddlers on long standup boards can paddle into and surf, actually traveling against the current up river. But the wind and current can also create dangerous conditions.

In a written statement to the Hood River News, authorities say it is unlikely Pombo survived. GoPro footage recovered from his board shows the South Florida resident falling off his SUP then disappearing off screen, separated from his board without a leash or lifejacket. The search continued throughout the weekend and marred a usually-jovial race scene that was also hampered by smoke from forest fires burning thousands of acres in the Pacific Northwest. As of Monday morning, Pombo is still missing.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.