Aspen Times Weekly: Going to Xtremes | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly: Going to Xtremes

by Dale Strode
Aspen, CO - January 26, 2014 - Buttermilk Mountain: Ben Ferguson competing in MenâÃÂÃÂs Snowboard SuperPipe Final during X Games Aspen 2014
Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images | Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

Winter X Games 2015

Schedule of events

Buttermilk Mountain / Aspen (All times Aspen MST)

Wednesday, Jan. 21

7 p.m. Women’s Ski Superpipe Final

Thursday, Jan. 22

11 a.m. Men’s Snowboarder X Qualifying

11 a.m. Women’s Snowboarder X Qualifying

11 a.m. Snowboarder X Adaptive Qualifying

Noon Men’s Ski Slopestyle Elimination

1:30 p.m. Mono Skier X Final

3 p.m. Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding

6 p.m. Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Elimination

7:15 p.m. Snowmobile Speed & Style (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals)

7:45 p.m. Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Final

Friday, Jan. 23

11 a.m. Men’s Snowboarder X (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals)

11 a.m. Women’s Snowboarder X (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals)

Noon Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Elimination

1:30 p.m. Snowboarder X Adaptive (semifinals, finals)

5 p.m. Men’s Ski Superpipe Elimination

6:15 p.m. Snoop Dogg Concert

7:30 p.m. Snowboard Big Air Round One

8:30 p.m. Snowboard Big Air Final

9:30 p.m. Snowmobile Long Jump Final

Saturday, Jan. 24

11 a.m. Men’s Ski Slopestyle Final

12:30 p.m. Major League Gaming “Counter Strike Global Offensive” (semifinal one)

1:30 p.m. Women’s Ski Slopestyle Final

2:30 p.m. Major League Gaming “Counter Strike Global Offensive” (semifinal two)

3 p.m. Snowmobile Hillcross (quarterfinals, semifinals, finals)

4 p.m. Chromeo Concert

6 p.m. Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Final

7 p.m. Ski Big Air Round One

8 p.m. Ski Big Air Final

9:30 p.m. Skrillex Concert

Sunday, Jan. 25

9:45 a.m. Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final

10 a.m. Major League Gaming “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” (bronze medal match)

11:30 a.m. Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle Final

Noon Snowmobile Snocross Adaptive Final

12:30 p.m. Major League Gaming “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” (gold medal match)

1 p.m. Snowmobile Snocross Round One and Final

2:45 p.m. Men’s Ski Superpipe Final

4:30 p.m. Wiz Khalifa Concert

The Winter X Games in Aspen are all about innovation.

Progression, innovation and … Snoop Dogg.

That same sequence of progression that has taken snowboarders and freeskiers to new levels of amplitude in the Buttermilk halfpipe has propelled the Winter X Games into new and uncharted territory for the 14th edition of Winter X at Buttermilk.

Witness:

• eSports make their debut at the Gaming Shack;

• Live music makes its return to the Winter X venue at the Sound Factory at the base of Buttermilk Mountain;

• The festival village is expanded to include interactive gaming and participatory sports games — hockey slap shots, basketball shooting and football passing, among others.

In the perpetual motion marketing machine that is the X Games, the return of concerts to the Buttermilk location adds pay-per-view options to the otherwise free fan experience at Winter X.

And admission is still free for the array of snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling and adaptive contests at Buttermilk.

The concerts, including Snoop Dogg, Chromeo, Skrillex and Wiz Khalifa, will require paid admission, however.

The same is true for the widely publicized introduction of eSports to Winter X in Aspen.

The MLG X Games Aspen Counter Strike Global Offensive Invitational will showcase the world’s best gamers competing for X Games medals.

That’s the top video gamers from around the world competing in Aspen — the Torin Yater-Wallaces, David Wises and Kelly Clarks of virtual sports.

The concept of eSports, hugely popular in the Far East for a decade, first made its X Games debut last year at the Summer X Games in Austin, Texas.

The addition to the Aspen schedule follows that virtual (and real) momentum, according to Tim Reed, vice president of the X Games for ESPN.

“We are excited to continue highlighting the artistic and cultural elements inherent in youth and action sports lifestyle at the X Games,” Reed said. “This year, bringing music back on site to Buttermilk will create an incredibly unique and social experience — music, sports and interactive offerings all in one amazing location.”

Let the games begin.

The 2015 Winter X Games at Buttermilk actually got off to an early start with the women’s ski superpipe finals staged under the lights Wednesday night, with the affiliated television coverage on the various platforms of ESPN/Disney.

The traditional Thursday-through-Sunday schedule follows this year with practice, qualifying and finals in the various disciplines. That’s action at Buttermilk from morning until night every day.

Reed said there will be 19 competitions at the Winter X Games in Aspen, including more adaptive disciplines than ever before.

In fact, the top adaptive snowboarders in the world will race head-to-head in Snowboarder X Adaptive, a medal sport for the first time after starting as a demonstration sport in Aspen in 2011 and 2012.

Mono Skier X and SnoCross Adaptive (snowmobile) also are in the competition lineup — an array of sports and disciplines that are changed every year.

Some cycle in and out, like Snowmobile Speed and Style, which is back after a one-year hiatus in 2014.

And Snomobile HillCross will return to the 2015 Aspen Winter X Games for the first time since 2004.

That means snowmobile legend Levi LaVallee will take aim at even more records at Buttermilk this week.

LaVallee is a seven-time Winter X gold medalist in multiple snowmobile disciplines.

He won the last Snomobile Speed and Style in 2013.

And he won the last HillCross more than a decade ago.

LaVallee, of course, will be joined by a legion of Winter X Games medalists and Olympians this year at Buttermilk — including Aspen’s own Torin Yater-Wallace.

The 19-year-old freeskiing halfpipe skier, who battled an epidemic of injuries last year but still made the U.S. Olympic Team, is back on the boards this year and back in top form.

He and fellow Olympian and Olympic gold medalist David Wise have traded spectacular performances in competitions leading up to the grand stage of the Winter X Games, swapping victories at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain.

Yater-Wallace will compete again in the Buttermilk halfpipe where he learned the craft and went on to hit the international spotlight.

Likewise, Wise will be back in the Buttermilk lights.

The popular Sage Kotsenburg, a medalist and media darling of the Sochi Winter Olympics, will return to Buttermilk with the likes of Kelly Clark, Jamie Anderson, Joss Christensen, Maddie Bowman and Mike Schultz.

Schultz is a unique and decorated Winter X Games athlete who will compete in two sports this year.

He’ll race in his familiar SnoCross competition.

And he’ll also add Snowboarder X Adaptive this year.

He’ll race on a snowmobile one day and a snowboard the next — as an above-the-knee amputee.

Schultz is a six-time gold medalist in X Games, including two in summer motocross and four in Winter X.

After losing his leg in a snowmobile accident in 2008, Schultz returned to competition in the snowmobile arena. When his regular prosthetic didn’t perform to his expectations, Schultz built his own prosthetic.

Oh, yes.

He also started a company based in Minnesota (BioDapt Inc.) that makes the sophisticated “moto knee” and “versa foot” prosthetics that he developed for action sports athletes and other amputees, including veterans.

“The X Games is the biggest snowboarding event in the world,” Schultz said in an interview with The Aspen Times. “It really showcases our sport well. They build these amazing courses for a good race, a good show.”

He said that the exposure at the X Games is mind-boggling from a competitive standpoint and a business/marketing standpoint.

That’s got something to do with television coverage into 394 million homes. Live.

“The X Games made my athletic career better and it made my business better as well,” said the 33-year-old from St. Cloud, who has been featured on ABC television. He won gold at Winter X in Aspen last year in Adaptive SnoCross.

A member of the U.S. Paralympic Snowboard Team, Schultz said he’s excited to return to Aspen for the 2015 Winter X Games as a two-sport adaptive athlete.

“It’s the focal point of our season.”

dstrode@aspentimes.com

To read the eEdition of the Aspen Times Weekly, visit http://issuu.com/theaspentimes/docs/atw-012215/0


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