In this week's edition of Extreme Exposure—a weekly column featuring news and photography from the world of action and outdoor sports—Keala Kennelly makes big wave history while avalanche fatalities continue to rise.
Historic XXL Awards
This year’s XXL Big Wave awards, held over the weekend in Anaheim, Calif., had a different air about them. First, many of surfing’s best big wave athletes were literally thankful to have made it through the El Niño winter, which saw some of the biggest swells in years “I almost had t-shirts made that said, ‘I survived El Nino,’” said Albee Layer. But it was also the groundbreaking nature of the event. When Keala Kennelly stepped on stage to accept the award for best barrel for her ride at Teahupoʻo, she became the first women to win a category other than female performance. Her acceptance speech was nothing short of inspiring: “Who I really want to thank is everyone who told me, ‘you can’t do that because you’re a woman,’” she said. “That drove me to dedicate my life to proving you wrong and it’s been so damn fun.”
Shane Dorian also had a huge night, winning both ride of the year and the male performance award. Afterwards, the 43-year-old acknowledged being closer to calling it quits than ever. “Brock Little was the ultimate fearless big wave rider and he told me, ‘(At some point), you’re going to paddle out (when it’s big), and you’re not going to want to have anything to do with the waves—and you’re going to be done.’”
Badass surfer @kealakennelly just made history by becoming the first female to win the Barrel Of The Year category at the @wslbigwaveawards. Check out PART THREE of her acceptance speech where she spoke about growing up being told she couldn't surf because she was a girl, how she used that to achieve her dreams in some of the most dangerous surf spots in the world, and why she has never been prouder to be a woman. 🏄🏆💪🏼 #kealakennelly #billabongxxl #teahupoo #wslbigwaveawards #barreloftheyear #surfer #likeagirl #badass #athlete #history #instavid
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Avalanche Fatalities Continue to Rise
In the snow world, it’s been an extremely tough year for avalanche fatalities. Last week we reported the death of two-time world champion snowboarder Estelle Balet, 21, after she was caught in an avalanche in Switzerland. Then big mountain skiing was hit when Quebec native Maxim Arsenault was killed in Haines, Alaska. Arsenault reportedly triggered a slide as he dropped a cliff, which then buried him upon landing. The 36-year-old had a gregarious personality and an interesting back story: Prior to becoming a professional freeskier, he served seven years in the Canadian army as a paratrooper and was deployed in Bosnia and East Timor. He moved to Whistler soon after leaving the army. According to Avalanche.org, his is the 29th avalanche-related death in the U.S. this season.
Something Big in the Lineup
Well, that’s one way to thin out the lineup. This week, a large whale washed ashore at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California, home to several important surf contests, including the World Surf League’s Lowers Pro in September. Whales can take months, even years, to break down and decay and the dead animals attract all sorts of sea scavengers looking for a freebie, including Great White Sharks. It’s the second dead whale seen in the area in as many weeks—deaths local fisherman are attributing to natural causes. There remains no official word on what type of whale it is or how local authorities plan to deal with the carcass.
Anyone for a surf at Trestles? Im sure that #BeachedWhale oil should keep the crowds to a minimum coming into summer! Sketchy. Great white sightings sure seemed to coincide with the burying of a whale 15+ years back by Trails. Not saying they weren't around before then but they've been sniffing around the area consistently since then. I wonder if they can/will tow this thing back out to sea before it completely decays in the rocks or do a necropsy on it. Anybody know? Can't help but think this (washing up right in the middle of #Lowers) is Karma for humans possibly having some part in this whale's death and the whale sending us a message we can't help but have a look at. A mile or two south and we probably wouldn't take nearly as much notice. Good summer to surf the wave pool. 😳🐋
• MORE EDGE: Q&A with snowboarder Mark McMorris
Ken Roczen Stalls Ryan Dungey in Supercross Series
Not so fast Ryan Dungey. Ken Roczen has something to say about your title hunt. Dungey, who’s been on a tear all year and was seeking to wrap up his second consecutive Supercross title, had his quest halted by Roczen and his fourth win of the season. Roczen dominated after the opening lap and desperately needed the win to try and tie down a title of his own. Dungey still managed third and Roczen’s hold on the reigning champ may only be temporary: Dungey simply needs to finish next weekend’s race in New Jersey with a 25-point lead to claim the title.