The X Games will be a big part of January in Aspen at least until 2019. On Wednesday, ESPN and the Aspen Skiing Company reached an agreement to keep the games in town for another five winters. What would become of the Games in Aspen had been an open question until the agreement was announced. They’ve been been held in Aspen for thirteen years, longer than any other X Games host city. Also... on Wednesday, snowboarder Shaun White did an on-again, off-again routine settling on “off.” The Flying Tomato said he will not compete at Buttermilk this year. X Games officials met with reporters yesterday to outline what to expect this week.
Editor’s note: below is a transcript of reporter Elise Thatcher’s story.
Reporter: Cheers and applause greeted the announcement to bring the X Games back for five more years. Then, announcers got down to business.
Announcer: “Sage Kotsenburg!”
Reporter: Hometown favorite Gretchen Bleiler told reporters that these will be her last X games. She’s retiring after this season. So she’s going to try and enjoy the event.
Gretchen Bleiler: “I’m just so grateful at where I’m at in my life and in my career. and X Games is always one of the most crazy exciting, passionate experiences of the year. So I’m excited just to enjoy it.”
Reporter: There was no mention of an eye injury that got in the way of Bleiler competing much last year. Bleiler said in her early X Games she learned to chill out and do well in competition. The first step, she said, is being grateful. And then...
Bleiler: “Knowing what you want, but caring so much about it that you detach from it. Because it’s so do the best you can in this moment. With the intention in your head of where you’re going, but allowing however you’re going to get there, that’s, you’re going to leave that up to whatever.”
Reporter: Buddhist principles aside, several athletes competing at this week’s event are also on the road to Sochi next month. Concerns about security have been mounting in recent months. The most recent development included threats made to Olympic organizers and nearby countries. Decorated halfpipe snowboarder Kelly Clark is headed to Russia for the Olympics in a few weeks, but says she isn’t worried.
Kelly Clark: “You know part of the challenge is staying focused on the task at hand. There’s no shortage of things things fighting for our attention at every olympic games, and I always find it’s better to focus on the things that you actually can control.”
Reporter: There was an emotional moment yesterday when one athlete talked about missing Sarah Burke-- a freestyle skier who died two years ago during a training accident. There is likely to be another moment for remembering Caleb Moore who died in a crash during last year’s games in Aspen.