Jul 172006
Authors: Mike Donovan

The state of Colorado is not known as a great athletic breeding ground or host of major athletic events. However, there is one type of sports that have always found a home in the Centennial State. For the last decade, extreme sports have flourished in Colorado with major competitions held throughout the state.

When the Dew Action Sports Tour rolled through Denver over the weekend, a hundred thousand or so excited fans were there to greet it. Coloradans have always taken kindly to sports that were once considered too different or too out there. Professional BMX biker and Denver native Jay Eggleston thinks that the residents of Colorado have a different mindset than most.

“The people here are way more open-minded when it comes to these kinds of sports,” Eggleston, 34, told me after a fifth place finish in the BMX vert event Saturday.

While the Dew Action Sports Tour and the X Games are definitely marketed to teeny-boppers and college students, any outsider to these games will be struck by the number of families and baby boomers who actually attend the events.

Any age group can appreciate the tricks performed by these athletes, and it seems that Coloradans have recognized this fact before most. The athletes who participated in Denver proved it as they went above and beyond almost anything that had been seen before.

The most impressive trick of the weekend belonged to 37-year-old BMX vert biker Keith McIlhinney – he performed the first front-flip in the history of his sport in front of an ecstatic Denver crowd. McIlhinney told the audience after the trick that he was glad he was able to debut the trick in front of the Denver fans.

Colorado, which has hosted seven X Games, is definitely a premier action sports destination according to native son Eggleston.

“Colorado is definitely one of the best places in the world for us, there are a ton of outdoor parks and different places to do all sorts of sports,” Eggleston said.

When it comes to Colorado’s competitors for the fictional extreme sports crown, there are really only two contenders. Greenville, North Carolina is home to six of the top 20 BMX riders, however, Greenville is only known for biking and does not compete with Colorado when it comes to the number of sports played.

Colorado’s other extreme sports rival is the state of California, which has also hosted seven X Games. Home to numerous professional extreme sport athletes and the state that invented skateboarding, California has always been at the forefront of extreme sports culture. Even Eggleston told me that California is definitely a hot bed for action sports.

Despite these facts, California is brought down by its size. Each extreme sport hot spot seems to hundreds of miles away from each other. Skateboarders love the Bay Area, while BMXers prefer SoCal and winter sport athletes love the mountains by Lake Tahoe.

In Colorado, the entire state is filled with numerous extreme sport venues. And that is why Colorado is king. Because almost every sport and athlete is welcome.

As Olympic gold medalist and California native Shaun White told me after I asked what he thought about the action sports scene in Colorado, “Well, Denver is a pretty cool place to kick it in.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Mike Donovan can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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