Aspen, Colorado: Where the Temperatures are Low, and the Good Times are High

By: Angela de Nicolo

The X Games kicked off on January 24th in Aspen, and they were as exciting as they were record-breaking.  Action sports superstar Shaun White won his 6th consecutive gold medal in superpipe; crowd attendance soared to above 114,500 people, which is more than ever before; and snowmobile trick competitor Joe Parson executed his never-before-seen trick “gator hater” in the GoPro Snowmobile Best Trick Finals to land a silver medal.

Of course the X Games are about nailing the newest and biggest tricks by putting on a show for the world. But none of the record breaking stunts or six-peats would be possible without a great host city; Aspen, Colorado.

Exactly how much preparation goes into getting Aspen ready for the X Games? More time than you’d imagine. Preparation to get the slopes in prime condition for the athletes is at least an 8 month process from conceptualization to finish. This year, set up for the games started on November 27th. According to snow park technology employee Chris Gunnarson, mid-December marked the point when the snow pipes begin to take shape. After New Years, the crew comes back in and starts going to town on all the other courses.

The lips looks huge, and the landing looks super long and steep,” big-air skiing competitor Bobby Brown said. “Last year it was pretty flat, and the jump wasn’t amazing for skiers. This will probably be the craziest big air the X Games has seen yet.”

Not only do the X Games bring in world class athletes, but the Games also ring in amazing shows, great parties, and tons of spectators. The X Games dramatically boost business for local Aspen restaurants, bars, and music venues by brining in upwards of 100,000 people for the four-day festival. The Roaring Fork Valley’s lodges, hotels and inns swell to 98 percent occupancy during the Games.

But how much longer will Aspen have the chance to remain the host city for the X Games? For the past 12 years the X Games have been hosted in Aspen. This city will remain the host for two more years, however, there is some buzz that ESPN might be looking into other host cities to start in 2015. Potential hosts have until April 2nd to formally submit proposals to ESPN, and the decision of where the X Games will be held from 2015-2017 is expected to be announced by the end of 2013.

Where exactly would the X Games move to? As of right now, there are three major contenders in the hosting race: California’s Lake Tahoe, Utah’s Park City and Canada’s Quebec City.

How do the athletes feel about switching host cities of the X Games? While most competitors share a universal appreciation for the current host city, some athletes are starting to speak out about the potential moving location.

Shaun White said, “I love Aspen, but a change of scenery would be fun. Change is good, right?” Can a possible endorsement for change from such a star athlete in the X Games play a role in whether or not Aspen will lose out on hosting after 2014? Looks like we’ll have to wait 11 more months to find out.

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