Snowmobile Freestyle Goes On, New Safety Precautions May Have Already Made a Difference
One year ago today, Caleb Moore crashed during the Snowmobile Freestyle event of the X Games. He later died from his injuries. The crash led to some changes in how that event was run. Still, despite the inherent dangers, the Snowmobile Freestyle contest goes on.
Editor’s note: below is a transcript of reporter Elise Thatcher’s story.
Announcer: “It all comes down to the score… oh my gosh! He’s going to pick up where he left off, the gold…”
Reporter: It was a powerful moment. A year after the deadly accident that killed his brother, Colten Moore stood pointing at the sky… the crowd cheering for his victory in snowmobile freestyle.
Announcer: “Come on Aspen, celebrate with that young man right there!”
Reporter: The long haired younger brother, now twenty-four, took gold last year, too, in the event that proved fatal for his brother. Colten also crashed during that competition. He broke his pelvis and cracked his tailbone.
Austin Wilson: “You know it’s a dangerous sport, but you know these guys are the best, and so I was completely confident that Colten was going to go out there and do what he did!”
Reporter: Austin Wilson is a close family friend, and stood with a cluster of family and friends waving the Texas flag. They’re from the Moore’s hometown in the Lone Star State. Wilson said Colten Moore didn’t make major changes in his training to prevent another accident.
Wilson: “He worked into in and got his rhythm back really fast, and it was just flowing. He actually started riding better than he has, and it’s cause he’s got Caleb there with him, and it shows.”
Reporter: After last year’s accident, ESPN took extra precautions to make the event safer--like requiring more safety gear for riders. Still, there’ll always be a risk to... what the contestants call big air…. while riding sleds weighing hundreds of pounds. Adding to the danger, riders often let go of the handlebars in their routines and do back flips. Jacob and Matt Mulligan are from Vero Beach, Florida, with some of the warmest looking headwear in last night’s audience. It was their first time to Aspen, and said they weren’t scared off by the idea that someone died from injuries sustained in the event last year.
Matt Mulligan: “It wasn’t a major part of what I thought about.”
Jacob Mulligan: “Yeah, like I knew it was a fluke, so, not worried about seeing something like that again.”
Reporter: One rider did crash last night, after a bad landing. Sam Rogers was slammed in the chest by the handlebars of his snowmobile, which then rolled onto him. It was reminiscent of Moore’s crash last year. Last night, Rogers was able to stand up and walk afterwards… and he may have been helped by one of the X Games safety precautions. He was wearing a chest protector, part of the new gear required after Caleb Moore’s death. As of late last night, ESPN said Rogers only had the wind knocked out of him.