SBJ/December 25 - 31, 2006/This Weeks News

Executives atop action games add duties

As the X Games and Dew Action Sports Tour evolve, the media companies backing them have redefined the roles of their top executives in anticipation of more growth.

ESPN expanded the responsibilities of X Games general manager Chris Stiepock from overseeing the domestic events to include content and international expansion. Meanwhile, NBC and Live Nation, which own the Dew Tour, promoted general manager Wade Martin to president and extended his contract for another three years.

Stiepock, who has overseen summer and winter domestic X Games since 2001, got his new responsibilities after a reorganization in the late fall. John Gassner, who managed domestic X Games sales, was elevated to senior director of international X Games. Stiepock will work with Gassner to expand that global operation. Both will report to Russell Wolff, who heads up ESPN International.

This year, the X Games hosted two international demonstrations in Dubai and Malaysia, but it plans to add other events and is exploring opportunities in Mexico, China and Australia. It also is looking at a possible return to Europe and Brazil, where it last held events in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Since 1998, there have been 16 X Games events internationally.

Stiepock said he’ll oversee efforts to expand action sports across all platforms from ESPN 360 to ESPN Deportes. He’ll also help nurture a potential snowboard reality series and an unscripted surfing series.

“The timing was right where I could extricate myself from the X Games some and devote more time to these other things,” he said.

Martin’s responsibilities as Dew Tour GM will expand after his recent contract extension and promotion to tour president.

The tour is exploring adding a winter series or event. Should the tour expand, elevating Martin to president and GM makes it possible for the tour to hire a new general manager in the future and spin off some of the operational responsibilities.

Martin joined NBC Sports in the fall of 2003 as the general manager of action sports. He developed the Dew Tour, a five-stop summer event featuring BMX, skateboarding and freestyle motocross.

“Now it’s time to craft the Dew Tour 2.0 and what it will look like,” Martin said. “It might be winter. It might be international. It’s my job to chart the course.”

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