Snowboarder Shaun White, skier Henrik Harlaut, skateboarder Mitchie Brusco, surfer Garrett McNamara and Nitro Circus star Ethen Godfrey-Roberts are among the nominees for the first ESPN Sport Science Newton Awards. The awards, which will be presented Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN are named after Sir Isaac Newton. Winners are judged by scientific video analysis, conducted in the ESPN Sport Science lab, of athletic performances from 2013.
White, Harlaut, and Brusco are nominated in the Best Flight category, each on the basis of recent X Games performances. White soared a record 24 feet above the X Games Aspen 2013 SuperPipe, setting an X Games amplitude record, and nabbing his sixth consecutive gold medal. Harlaut is recognized for the nose butter triple cork 1620 that helped him win Ski Big Air gold in 2013. (He reprised the trick on his way to a Ski Big Air repeat at X Games Aspen 2014.)
Brusco was nominated after landing the first 1080 on the Skateboard Big Air ramp at X Games Barcelona 2013.
"I've always wanted to be on Sport Science, after seeing a couple of my friends like Bob Burnquist on there in the past," says Brusco. "Just from skating for so long I feel like I understand the science of it pretty well, and the general physics of the tricks I do, but it's cool because now the public watching can understand what a 1080 really is and why it's so difficult."
Javonte Douglas, a 6-foot-7 forward for the College of Central Florida Patriots basketball team, is also nominated in the Best Flight category: He reached approximately 12 feet in the air for a rebound and putback dunk against Pasco-Hernandez State College in November.
"For me, once I start thinking about the science behind it, the first thing I'm thinking is, 'What's next? What else might be possible?'" Brusco says. "You hear people say things like, 'anything's possible,' and for me the coolest part about seeing how Sport Science breaks everything down is that you start to understand how and why certain things are possible -- like that crazy dunk, or Shaun White going so big."
Sunday's special will break down each of these flying feats, as well as others in Sport Science categories, including "Best Catch," "Best Projectile Launch," "Outstanding Reaction," "Best Throw," "Most Improbable," "Greater Than," "Outstanding Agility" and "Outstanding New Limit."
McNamara and Godfrey-Roberts are nominated in the latter category: McNamara surfed a 100-plus-foot wave in January 2013 off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, and Godfrey-Roberts landed the first-ever Superman double backflip on a mountain bike during a Nitro Circus performance in December 2013. They'll be up against BASE jumper Valery Rozov, competitive eater Joey Chestnut and open-water swim record holder Diana Nyad.
"For me to be nominated on a platform with ESPN riding my bike is a dream," says Godfrey-Roberts. "Seeing my trick get analyzed by Sports Science was super crazy ... because it's just things I never thought about, and probably am not smart enough to figure out either!
"The science for me preparing for my trick was pretty basic. [Our normal] jump is an 8-foot lip at 60 degrees with a 40-foot gap onto a 10-foot landing. That just wasn't enough height for me to get the second rotation around. So jacking the ramp up a foot and a half and adding an extension pushing the lip to 75 degrees was what I needed to get the height and rotation to complete a double backflip Superman."