Feb 012005
Authors: Paul Baker, Scott Bondy

Broken femurs, torn ACLs, torn meniscuses and broken backs. These are some of the injuries X Games athletes get while competing for the gold medals.

With extreme sports, come extreme risk and potential for injury. Many of the famed athletes in this year's X Games, including Shaun White, Gretchen Bleiler and Brian Deegan, are coming off injuries they sustained in last year's X Games, and in the case of Bleiler, before last year's X Games.

This was the year of the comeback, as all three of the athletes won the events in which they competed.

Last year in the Moto X Best Trick competition, Brian Deegan, of the Medal Mulisha, was one of the favorites to take the gold with a bag of tricks that included a no- footed back flip and a 360. But in the competition's prelims, Deegan attempted a 360, which had never been done on snow. What came next could be the narliest crash ever at the X Games. Halfway through on his 360, Deegan realized that he couldn't complete the trick, and he ditched his bike and fell 30 feet to the ground below. Paramedics rushed to him. Deegan had broken his femur.

With a crash like that, many riders would hesitate to get back onto the bike, let alone try and throw tricks like that again, but Deegan and the rest of the Metal Mulisha aren't your average riders. Deegan came back this year with something to prove. He threw a no-footer back flip that was clean enough to take the title and the win at X Games Nine.

Another athlete who was making a return to the X Games was Superpipe competitor Gretchen Bleiler. An Aspen local, Bleiler tore her ACL early last season, which made her watch the games from the sidelines last year.

"It was really hard to watch last year and not participate," Bleiler said in an expn.com interview.

The wait was worth it for Bleiler as she stomped a crippler 540, a huge 720 and three back-to-back 540s to take the gold medal in front of her family and friends. Bleiler, who won the gold medal in 2003, beat the likes of defending champ Hannah Teter and Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark.

Quite possibly the most talented athlete of his time, Shaun White, aka the "Flying Tomato," previously thought to be indestructible, blew out his knee last year in practice for the Superpipe finals and was unable to compete. White underwent reconstructive knee surgery over the summer and four months in the gym to get back to where he was before the injury.

It paid off for White this year, as he has already won the Nokia Air and Style in Japan and The Sessions at Vail this year before coming to Aspen. White used his momentum and his unparalleled style to spin and grind past his competition in the Slopestyle contest.

Paul Baker is a junior health and exercise major. He is a sports reporter for the Collegian.


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