SBD/January 25, 2011/Events and Attractions

Winter X Games' Future In Aspen Undecided Past 2012

Winter X Games have been held in Aspen since 2002
The '11 Winter X Games run Thursday-Sunday this week in Aspen, Colo., but the future of the event in Aspen "beyond 2012 is up in the air and organizers plan to make no announcements this week that a new contract has been inked," according to Carolyn Sackariason of the ASPEN DAILY NEWS. Aspen Skiing Co. VP/Sales & Events John Rigney "reportedly met with ESPN executives on Thursday," and ASC Dir of PR Jeff Hanle said that company officials "hoped to make an announcement during the games." Hanle said that "while negotiations continue," the X Games will be held in Aspen "through at least next year." Hanle: "We definitely have one more locked in." Sackariason noted the current contract was agreed upon in '06, "with an option for ESPN to remain" through '12. ESPN and ASC in '09 "agreed to pick up the option and announced the two-year extension." The Winter X Games "have been at Buttermilk Mountain since 2002, giving Aspen the longest tenure of any Winter X Games venue." Athletes and ESPN officials have said that the Buttermilk venue "works particularly well because all events end in the same area at the bottom of the mountain, which makes the games easily accessible for spectators." ESPN's "ability to essentially take over Buttermilk for a month also is key," as ASC "has three other mountains at which to spread its skiing public." Hanle noted that the event is a "huge draw for the resort" (ASPEN DAILY NEWS, 1/24). In Aspen, Dorothy Atkins noted since the X Games' debut in Aspen, "what has been a traditional mid-season lull has become one of the busiest weekends of the season with effects that go beyond numbers." Hanle: "January was typically a down month in the winter. We'd get through the holidays and then (we would hit the) January slow. Now the month of January is one of the strongest months and we attribute a lot of that to the X Games" (ASPEN DAILY NEWS, 1/23).

LOBBYING EFFORT: In Colorado Springs, Brian Gomez noted skiing halfpipe athlete Jen Hudak has lobbied the IOC to put the sport "on the program for the 2014 Sochi Games." The IOC in October "voted to delay a decision on men's and women's skiing halfpipe for 2014." The IOC Exec Board allowed IOC President Jacques Rogge "to make the call himself," and a decision "will be determined by April." Gomez noted the sport is "almost identical to the snowboard version," and it "will be a major part of the Winter X Games." A "modified form of skiing halfpipe will be on display" today and tomorrow at Denver Big Air, "with 73 competitors on a ramp at Civic Center Park that measures 106 feet high, 296 feet long and 70 feet wide" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 1/22).
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