Print and Go Back ESPN.com: News & Opinion [Print without images]

Monday, August 1, 2011
Out with a bang, bruise and fall

By Mary Buckheit
special to espnW

After chasing five days worth of X Games stories in crispy, old Vans, I have blisters on the backs of my heels so big I could tell the grocery store checker I have my own bags.

I have a credential-lanyard-shaped sunburn.

My laptop is giving me a Mozilla crash report every time I flip it open.

While on the trot to the media center I accidentally skipped my iPhone across the L.A. Live concrete like a flat rock on a still lake.

I have Red Bull breath. I have Red Bull goggles. I have extreme journalism carpel tunnel.

The icing on my cake came Friday afternoon on my way to the Staples Center when my dear Volkswagen was totaled in a five-car scrum on the 110 North. I missed my main event -- Women's Skate Street -- and now I feel like my person was recently dropped from great heights.

I wasn't, but a lot of people around here actually were.

Just another day at the X Games office.

I am living in the crucible of crash. When the TV commercials in the weeks leading up to Summer X 2011 warned, "It's about to get real," I should have taken heed.

Ashley Fiolek was unconscious for 20 seconds and suffered a concussion in Saturday's surly Moto X crash but still begged doctors, her parents and team managers to allow her to compete.

Marisa Dal Santo skated to her third Skate Street gold medal with a wrist brace halfway up her forearm.

Jessica Patterson lucklessly toppled on the fifth lap of her six-lap heat, dashing her hopes of a Moto X medal Saturday night.

Tarah Geiger took a tumble down the entrance ramp, off of her 250-pound Honda and into a barrel before she even touched the dirt of the Enduro track.

"I'm not sure how many times I fell, I lost count, but it felt like I tripped up over every single thing I came across," Gieger recounted in the moments after the race with sweat on her brow and an icepack to her left hip. "The course was so slippery. A lot of moisture came up and we were all over the place. But still that first fall down the ramp was the worst one of them all for me. The left side of my body is what hurts the most and that's from the start. I'm happy with the result. I am happy to walk away with anything after the way that got going for me."

They say it's not polite to ask a lady her weight, but by my estimates, T.G. tipped, tottered and was obliged to redress a mass of metal, that has about a hundred pounds on her, at least a dozen times.

Mustering her second silver medal of the weekend was certainly no stroll in the park.

In a parallel universe, I would be getting flowers, kisses, sympathy cards and baby giraffes for my tragedy theatre, but in the shadows of the ladies of X, trying to use any bodily grievance as a let-off feels like the 30-year-old equivalent of, "my dog ate my homework." Just trying to get a Band-Aid from somebody around here is like asking a college student if they have a postage stamp.

I used to think I had an adequate pain threshold. I was a Division I college athlete, I've broken two collarbones, weathered three surgeries and have four screws in my ankle. Still, after spending a week with these athletes, I feel like a delicate flower.

There's nothing these women can't handle. Seemingly no pain they're not willing to fight through. I bet they don't even tear up when they tweeze their eyebrows. So, in the name of Vitamin I -- ibuprofen -- and the strange scent of Arnica, I salute the hard-earned bumps and bruises that will surely surface tomorrow.

Wear your wounds with pride.

Mary Buckheit is a freelance writer based in San Diego. She can be reached at MaryBuckheit@hotmail.com.