The 2004 edition of the world's largest extreme sports competition put the "X in X Games. The tricks were insane, the crowd was ferocious, the weather was bitter, and the parties went off. And Winter X IX expects nothing different. Check out the slideshow below for a glimpse of the festivities.
On Jan. 24, 2004, Winter X Games VIII rolled into Aspen for an unprecedented third year and featured more than 250 of the world's best extreme winter athletes who competed in snowboard, ski, snowmobile and Moto X events and ESPN announces the X Games will remain in Aspen through 2007. Normally, Aspen is a quaint, four-mountain ski town with loads of shopping. But when the X Games come to town, competitors and spectators alike tear up the town like a swarm of locusts. So, are locals excited to have Winter X in Aspen for the next four years? You betchya!
From Aspen locals to Australian tourists, everyone is excited to keep the Winter X Games in Aspen for a few more years. Not only do the X Games help business during the event, the national publicity puts Aspen on the map and boosts tourism throughout the year.
"Having the X Games here for three more years is a great thing for Aspen, says Johanna Robertson, an Aspen local. "The Games bring a lot of young people to Aspen.
In a town often filled with an over 40 crowd, the X Games bring a young vibe that many locals appreciate. Some even compare the X Games atmosphere to that of a college town because of the crowd. But what do people actually do during the Winter X Games? "It's all about what you choose to do, you can have as much fun as you want to, Robertson adds.
Many spectators enjoy watching the pierced and tattooed members of the crowd go crazy while cheering for their favorite athletes. During the 2004 Games the crowd was exceptionally large. According to ESPN, the on-site spectator total of 66,500 was the highest in the event's three-year Aspen history, exceeding the attendance from the past two years by 37 percent (48,700 in 2003) and 83 percent (36,300 in 2002), respectively. But these aren't your normal winter sports enthusiasts.
"At X Games, you meet people from walks of life you don't normally meet, says Vijay Daryanani, a personal trainer for ESPN. "Instead of the football, soccer, and basketball players I meet on a daily basis, I meet snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders. They add a different dimension to sports because of their individual objectives. A usually homogenous mix of people became more diverse just three years ago when Aspen allowed snowboarders on the mountain. That said "Aspen meets X Games renders a very interesting mix of individuals that makes for fun people-watching.
"The scene is cool, but it can be crazy when the locals from Aspen mix with the X Games athletes, says Dane Herron, sports coordinator and course setter for Moto X. "The mixture is quite interesting. Herron sets courses for 40 Moto X competitions annually, including the Summer X Games. He remembers doing a photo shoot for the Denver Post two years ago while wearing Moto X gear in front of Louis Vuitton. "It's funny, he recalls, "Moto X and tattoos meets Aspen. There's a lot of cool people in this town and there's a lot of floofy people in this town and that makes for a good combination.
"The X Games brings a beautiful dynamic of young attractive people to the valley, says Aspen local John Przonek. "I think in the next three years this is going to be the pinnacle of Aspen Winter.
The mix of people is only one aspect of the X Games; there are the games themselves. Awesome, impressive, and crazy, are just a few adjectives used to describe the stunts that take place during the events. Many spectators come for the Moto X and snowmobiling events because, unlike skiing and snowboarding, these sports are rarely seen live. "The show is very good for the snowmobilers, says Sebastian Thibauld from the Ski Doo Factory Racing deparrtment. "The Games are great coverage for the sport and the athletes.
The athletes and the tricks they pull off are extremely impressive, but it's the combination of motors and snow that awe the audience. People wonder how a motorcycle gets 30 feet in the air from a snowy take-off. Herron attributes it to the icy course and spiked tires. "The combination of spikes and the frozen snow makes for traction, he says. Spectators are flabbergasted at how big the Moto X guys go. "What kind of mother would allow her child to do this stuff? Cheri Pollack from Knoxville, TN, asks. "Mothers who have surrendered I guess. It's all insane.
Not everyone focuses one hundred percent of their attention on the events. Some spectators enjoy a more balanced X Games schedule. Angel Macias, a 25-year-old from Denver says, "My favorite thing to do is ski morning groomers, watch some of the events, meet some really good quality folks and enjoy life. When asked about the nightlife, Macias stays away from crowded downtown and close to home in his Winnebago parked at the base of Buttermilk. "If it's rockin', come knockin', he invites.
Winter X Games has its share of private parties too. In 2004, the Caribou Club played host to the heavily anticipated FHM (For Him Magazine) party highlighted by the Sexy Girls of the X Games. On the February 2004 FHM cover the girls wore nothing but body paint to cover their birthday suits. The girls made an appearance at the party but, to their fan's disappointment, they dawned clothing.
For Winter X VIII, Powder Magazine hosted their Reader's Poll and Awards Ceremony at the glitzy St. Regis Hotel known for showcasing Louis Vuitton, Prada, and other high-end brands in the lobby. The soiree featured some of the hottest young skiers and snowboarders and their fans. However, an expensive cash-only bar steered many young X Games visitors to other taverns in congested downtown.
During X Games week, downtown Aspen is swamped with thirsty people looking for a good watering hole. Paying $10-20 cover and waiting up to 20 minutes to get into some of the popular spots such as Club Chelsea, Eric's, Lava Room and Shooters should be expected. However, once you're in, the bar scene is an experience to say the least.
Chris Ernst (a.k.a. Uncle E), an announcer for the Games, avoids the bar scene at Winter X because, "it's smoky, there's plenty of attitude and a lot of the people are drunk and obnoxious. They're not all like that he says, "the FHM party starts at 110 percent and stays at 110 percent throughout the night. It's really fun if you know where to go.
Whether skiing, spectating, or partying, the Winter X Games is definitely a great time for all. So, start resting because Winter X Games IX starts at 8 a.m. Jan 29, 2005. Find a floor to sleep on, check the bus schedule, whatever you need to do, just get to it. Seeing these events live is a must and if you don't go, how are you going to know if those tattoos on their necks are real? See you there!