Records broken at 2010 Winter X Games

Eric Van Allen

While the Winter Olympics has always been the center of snowbound competitors, alternative sports like snowmobiling and (until recently) snowboarding have always found their home in the Winter X Games. The Winter X Games started in 1997, two years after the debut of the Summer X Games. The winter version has been growing rapidly in popularity over the last decade. This year, they were held in Aspen, Colorado just two weeks before the beginning of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The competitions stem from three different specialties: skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiles, with individual events in each. Skiers compete in the slopestyle, superpipe and big air events, alongside the typical cross-country race. Snowboarders also competed in these events. Snowmobile contestants would compete in freestyle, best trick, knock out and snocross, a race similar to BMX racing. The variety of sports provided viewers with both a variety of different competitions and a view of just how massive the X Games truly are.

This year marked a record for viewers, with over 43 million people tuning in to watch. Also, an unprecedented 84,100 spectators traveled to Aspen to watch the games in person, beating the previous years’ attendance by almost 10,000 more attendees. The rising popularity is due in part to the great attention some athletes have brought to the events.

“I really liked the superpipe because of Shaun White,” Phillip Guebert, senior, said. “And watching Caleb Moore on the snowmobile snocross was really exciting.”

The alternative aspect of the games appealed to many viewers, especially extreme sport enthusiasts. The games offer a much more relaxed atmosphere as compared to the Winter Olympics, and encouraged competitors to keep competing to land the tricks that no one had landed before.

“I like the winter sports in general,” Guebert said. “It’s got a great atmosphere for athletes to keep coming up with new sports and new tricks.”

In addition to the innovation allowed at the X Games, fans also enjoyed viewing the games because of the competitors involved. Favorite contenders like Shaun White, Sarah Burke and Levi Lavallee populated the standings and enticed more viewers to the broadcast and venue.

“My favorite is Shaun White,”Arizona Dabrusin, sophomore, said. “He can land some really sweet tricks and is really entertaining to watch.”

In skiing, US competitor Bobby Brown received a perfect 100 from the judges in the big air event, securing him the gold medal. Kaya Turski of Canada also won the highest score any competitor has ever received in the women’s ski slopestyle event, winning gold. Fellow Canadian freestyle skier, Sarah Burke, was attempting a four-peat (winning a gold medal in an event for four years in a row) on the ski superpipe. However, Burke finished sixth overall in the event, bested by American Jen Hudak and 17-year-old prodigy Meagan Gunning. The Canadian team for men’s cross-country skiing took a sweep of the medals, winning all three medals in the event. This was the first time in the history of the games that a country besides the US swept the medals. The Canadian women also did well in cross-country skiing, winning two of the three medals. In addition, the US team also swept the mono-skier competition for men, an event for disabled skiers.

Shaun White, Olympic medalist and favorite to win the men’s snowboard superpipe, took home the gold even after suffering an injury prior to his final run. Halldor Helgason, an Icelandic snowboarder, received a perfect 100 in the men’s big air snowboarding, and was the only Icelander to medal at the games. Nate Holland won the gold medal in men’s snowboard cross-country for the fifth year in a row, a first for the X Games. In women’s snowboard cross-country, Lindsey Jacobellis took the gold for the third year in a row, the second three-peat of her career.

In the snowmobile competition, Justin Hoyer managed to beat out favorites Heath Frisby and Levi Lavallee to win the gold in the freestyle snowmobile event, leading the US in a sweep of the freestyle results. Swedish snowmobiler, Daniel Bodin, was the only Swedish competitor to medal at the games, getting silver under American Heath Frisby in the Best Trick competition. The Americans also won a complete sweep of the snocross competition, with six Americans led by Mike Schultz securing all six spots. Among these six Americans was local snowmobile and ATV racer Caleb Moore, a native Texan. Moore received the bronze in snocross, an amazing achievement considering it was the first X Games he had attended.

This year the games were full of exciting firsts and disappointments for medal favorites. But despite this, the counter-culture spirit of the X Games lives on, and now many of the competitors gear up in anticipation of the Winter Olympics and next year’s X Games.