Jan 272005
 
Authors: Sarah Rawley

Watch out fellow snow and sports lovers. This weekend the ESPN Winter X Games IX hits Colorado.

Two hundred thirty of the most extreme athletes from across the globe will return to Aspen/Snowmass from Saturday to Tuesday for an unprecedented fourth year to compete for medals and cash prizes in Moto X, Ski, Snowboard and Snowmobile events.

"These professional athletes dedicate their life to training for what they love," said Katie Moses, manager of athlete relation and event publicity for ESPN Winter X Games.

"The events that they are competing in are what they are passionate about. This is what makes the event so special,"

The Winter X Games were voted the top priority event by professional riders, as published in Transworld Snowboarding Magazine in November.

The ninth annual event is free to the public and will showcase some of the world's best athletes. The event will also feature a new lineup of musical performances called the Apres X Concert Series in downtown Aspen, presented by Jeep and Hewlett Packard.

Friday night's venue will feature a recent Grammy-nominated band, Ozomatli, and Saturday night's act will star the soulful beat of The Roots.

"It's such an accessible, open venue," Moses said. "You can just walk around in the interactive village, mingling with the athletes and enjoy live music. You can't get this at a basketball game."

This year's event will also include A.W.O.L. ASPEN on Sunday featuring a wall ride at the base of Aspen Mountain where skiers and snowboarders attempt to premier their most insane tricks on a 30-foot wall, while Unwritten Law plays on a stage above it all. This event is free and open to the public of all ages.

"Those tricks are going to be so sick. It would give me the biggest rush ever. It makes me want to do it," said Carrie Pheiffer, a freshman natural resources recreation and tourism major.

Also new this year as an official competition is the women's Ski Superpipe.

"Last year this event was only a demo. Now that it will count, the women are totally stoked to compete in it," said Karin Moran, public relations for ESPN X Games.

Returning athletes include Shaun White and Steve Fisher in the Snowboard Superpipe and Blair Morgan in the SnoCross event.

"Morgan has been a multi-gold medalist in previous years. Because he only bronzed last year, he is going strong to get the gold back," Moses said.

ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will feature 15 hours of original live programming between Saturday and Tuesday. In addition, ESPN2 will present daily late-night highlight programs from of the day's events each night.

For snow sports fanatics in Colorado, it is like having the best-of-the-best in their backyard.

"Here in Colorado you are more of a local, and less of a tourist at these national events," Pheiffer said. "It's so awesome that we are so close."

Erin Klamper, a senior natural resource recreation major and president of the CSU Outing Club, is looking forward to the event.

"I can't wait to see the snowboarding because I'm really into it. The activities all day and night are going to be one big party," Klamper said.

Aspen/Snowmass has been a location in the past for the X Games and will continue to do so through the Winter X Games XI in 2007.

"We are happy to be back at Aspen. We absolutely love it. It's a combination of support from Aspen Ski Company, extraordinary mountains and courses that the athletes love," Moses said.

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