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« U.S. Open of Surfing, it's GINORMOUS | Main | Shaun White explodes to claim Vert Gold at X Games 17 »

Cultural Icons and Broken Bones at X Games.

Shaun White shows the stoke momments after winning SkateBoard Vert. Photo Tomas Zuccareno / ESPN ImagesAction sports used to be called extreme sports, they used to be considered counter culture...deviating from societal norms.  ESPN's X Games franchise is no longer a sub culture...it is THE culture.  Huge crowds flocked downtown to L.A Live, Staples Center, Nokia Theatre and the streets of L.A. to see Skaters, BMX Bikers, Rally Racers and Moto X Riders compete at their chosen sport.   With Official partners like U.S. NAVY, FORD, BF GOODRICH and RED BULL; action sports and X Games has officially become THE OLYMPICS of Action Sports. The X lifestyle is about pushing the limits, living the dream, going bigger, faster and with more style.  Everybody wants to be the next breakout star and X Games is the place to do it.  These guys are athletes and daredevils.  Some of  'em use meticulous preparation and training...some just throw it down.  The athletes, their fans and the passion for action sports was palpable during X Games 17 in Los Angeles.

Click for AspenSpin's "sick pix"  X GAMES 17

Bethany Hamilton, Tony Hawk and Anna Sophia Robb at The Jimmy V. Kickoff event. Click for more pix from AspenSpin."It's what we do" explained one high profile competitor who wished to remain anonymous,"it's how we make our money".  He continued " this is the BIG stage, the whole world is watching, what else am I gonna do? drive a truck like my dad?"  The pressure to, earn sponsors, to break out, pushes many of these modern day warriors to new heights, faster speeds and disastrous crashes.  In case its not obvious, action sports has a high degree of difficulty.  One slip at speed can result in terrible consequences.   The danger of going BIG is real.  These guys risk it all...every time they compete. They lay it down every time.  You can't be tenative or unsure of yourself when you're launched 50 feet above the mega ramp.  Broken bones are the price you pay for greatness.

The X Games has become a well oiled machine, a far cry from the original idea conceived during a coffee shop brainstorming session in 1993.  X Games combines competition with culture.  It combines attitude with athleticism.  While the events are often best watched on TV, attending live defies description.  The courses, the ramps, the spectator areas...its an unbelievable a set-up.  The top action athletes have morphed into cultural icons.  Shaun White who threw down a phenomenal run to win Gold in Skateboard Vert (see previous post) is one of the best known and highest compensated athletes in the world...he's 24 years old.  Jamie Bestwick is a dominating force in BMX Vert just as Garrett Reynolds is in BMX Street.  The motor heads represent on their bikes and rally cars, and always push it to the limit.  Nate Adams, Twitch, Brian Deegan and Travis Pastrana may not be household names in your house...but they are superstars all over the world.

The photos displayed below were taken by ESPN's pro's... the best shooters in the business.  We're thrilled to be able to share them on AspenSpin.  The photos we snapped are more about the lifestyle and the people, you can see them by clicking X GAMES 17

To see all the coverage, results and awesome video highlights click into ESPN's site:


Nat Adams went upside down for GOLD. Photo: c Van Hanja /ESPN images


The Streets of L.A. were set up for Rally Car Races. Photo: Eric Lars Bakke /ESPN Images.Steve McCann sent it on the 80 ft Mega Ramp taking GOLD. Photo: Matt Moring / ESPN Images.

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