The X Games is the Olympics of Action Sports..... and its a MACHINE. Winter X Games 15 is the 10th Anniversary of Winter X Games in Aspen. Its been a wild, wild ride. ESPN's baby is "all growed up". Aspen /Snowmass and ButterMilk are locked in as the site for the 2012 X Games....but ESPN has been non-committal about an extension past next year. The seemingly symbiotic relationship may be on thin ice. AspenSpin's spyder senses indicate a change of venue may be coming after 2012...we'll see if that 's the call. X Games has been good to Aspen, and Aspen has been good to X Games. One result.....Aspen Spin has some sick pix coming soon.
ESPN's X Games brings many things to Aspen....most obviously....a younger demographic. On Saturday, a record 41,800 fans attended the X Games and for the weekend a roof shattering 114,200 souls came to B-Milk. We're not sure how the numbers were tabulated or who was on the clicker...but it was crowded. Security at Buttermilk was slightly overwhelmed and buses into the games were temporarily halted.
The crowds were dense and the on-course competition was fierce. Rock star Shaun White 4-peated in super pipe. Seasoned pro's like Sarah Burke (4th Gold), Tucker Hibbert (5-peat) and Lindsey Jacobellis (4-peat) added Gold medals to their hardware collections. Young guns such as Big Air Skier Alex Schlopy, Stylie French Canadian Sebastian Toutant and 15 year old Aspen local Torin Yater-Wallace took center stage with breakthrough performances. A changing of the guard seemed to occur right before out eyes. The weather in Aspen was picture-perfect all weekend. The "non-alchololic" family friendly, schwag-heavy events at Buttermilk yielded to major league partying in town. Music was abundant.. Lance Herbstrong, The Mile Markers, Big Boi and The Marley Family and O.A.R. were a few of the acts gigging in Aspen. Sponsor parties, autograph signings and un-limited free stuff was everywhere. A-Town was swingin' for the fences, but Ajax was empty.
X Games is BIG Air...and like the Olympics its BIG biz. The partnership between ESPN and Aspen Skiing Company is a combination of business titans. ESPN is a division of the powerful media conglomerate Disney and Aspen Ski Co. is a privately held asset belonging to the billionaire Crown Family. Both entities like to be in control...so the fact that they work in harmony is testimony to the HUGENESS of the business opportunities at X. Sponsors who want to stay relevant with the action sports demo line up to participate. Jeep, US Navy, Oakley, Samsung, The North Face and more. Other consumer brands who are not "official "sponsors rent spots along the X Fest corridor or in the Gondola Plaza in town. Still more brands go the grass-roots route and set up "pop up" promotions in all kinds of crazy spaces---even in the trunks of their cars. The schwag flows like beer---and everyone knows the beer flows like wine and beautiful women instinctivly flock here like the salmon of Capistrano...i'm talking about a little place called Asssspen.
ESPN completely takes over Buttermilk for a month and re-tools the smallest of our 4 mountains. Aspen/Snowmass gets phenomenal TV exposure, a connection with a younger demographic and boat lodes of dollars from tourists and promoters. The town of Aspen takes a beating as many of our younger guests forfeit their security deposits upon entering the Roaring Fork Valley. The partying is excessive and the cops are much busier than usual. While it's mostly good clean fun... A-spin never condones binge drinking. Aspen will miss Winter X Games in 2013 if ESPN decides to take The Machine to Canada...or some other "not as cool" location. However, that is indeed our prediction....2012 will be the final X Games in Aspen. It's been a fantastic run, and honestly we hope A-Spin is reading the tea leaves incorrectly this time.
Our pix will be up soon.