ASPENA,-The X Games.
For many, this is the Olympics: a competitive gathering of the greatest athletes from sports some of us actually watch. This year, ESPN, parent to the X-Games, included events in snowboarding, snowmobiling, motocross and skiing.
ThatA,’s right, skiing.
Skiing isnA,’t new to the X-Games, but last year, skiing had only one freestyle event A,- Big Air, and only about five minutes of the entire competition was aired on the ESPN networks. Compare this to snowboardingA,’s three freestyle events A,- Big Air, Superpipe and Slopestyle.
As everyone knows, snowboarding is much cooler than skiing A,- or so says MTV. But is that really the case? Well, something big happened this year to question that. The X-Games dropped skiing and snowboarding Big Air (thatA,’s one ski event and one snowboard event for those of you keeping score at home). WhatA,’s more, they added TWO, count A,’em, two, skiing events: Superpipe and Slopestyle.
Now, any of you who were aware of skiing beyond racing and ballet the last couple years probably think this makes sense. Skiing has been progressing for years, far beyond what many people are aware of. I have personally surprised more people than I can count with the fact that skiers can rail slide. Most just assumed I was talking snowboarding.
So, this is the question: If the X-Games put skiing on the same level as snowboarding, does this mean skiing is cool again? Well, not necessarily just because itA,’s on the X-Games.
According to Steve Beneski, Art Director of Freeze Magazine: A,”WeA,’ll let them do what they have to do to let people now see whatA,’s going on.A,”
So even people in the heart of the freeskiing scene arenA,’t going to jump to conclusions that something is cool just because ESPN and the X-Games include it. Instead, they just use the games as a method of getting these sports to the public. That being the case, we now look to the public.
Jan. 20, 2002, Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen.
At the Skiing Superpipe event, after watching the Snowboard Superpipe just the day before, only one thing surprised me about this event A,- the size of the audience.
The menA,’s final snowboarding Superpipe event was held at the end of the day, after all other events had ended, and the place was completely packed. There probably wasnA,’t an extra spot in the house. As for the menA,’s final skiing Superpipe, it was supposed to start at 1 p.m. but was moved up to 12 p.m., at the same time as the Snowmobile hill climb and snowboard slopestyle. So it was not exactly the only attraction at the time.
When thinking of this article, I asked a friend standing next to me, A,”So, is skiing cool?A,” He responded with: A,”Just look at the crowd.A,” Sure enough, there were nearly as many people watching this event as the one the day before. And with guys like Greg Tuffelmire boosting 15 plus feet above the top of the pipe, spinning 900s and carrying 20 feet down the pipe, the crowd was rewarded with an amazing show. Add Boyd EasleyA,’s switch rodeo 720s (going up the side of the pipe backwards), and the crowd had to be assured that skiing is still progressing.
Is skiing cool again? Does the X-Games think that skiing is cool again? Should anyone really care? Probably not.
The sport doesn’t need a bandwagon; it doesn’t need people to think it’s cool. But it does definitely deserve respect A,- more than it’s getting.
Today, skiing is far beyond racing and moguls. It does have a place among alternative sports. Does it matter if skiing has three events in the X-Games now? No.
Skiing is still the greatest sport on earth, whether anyone else knows it, or cares.