Aspen Skiing Co. hopes for X Games extension | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Skiing Co. hopes for X Games extension

Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesFrance's Xavier Bertoni spots his landing in January during Winter X ski superpipe practice at Buttermilk.

ASPEN – The Aspen Skiing Co. hasn’t reached an agreement yet to keep the Winter X Games at Buttermilk beyond this winter, but the company’s second in command said there is good reason to believe a deal will be in place by spring.

“We’re in close dialogue with ESPN and we’re comfortable in our discussions with them,” David Perry, Skico senior vice president, mountain division, told Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday in an annual briefing.

Aspen will host its 11th X Games Jan. 26-29. A two-year extension for the event expires after the next games, but Perry said that doesn’t mean that Aspen’s at risk of losing them. ESPN is focusing on finding the right fit for additional summer and winter X Games overseas.

“ESPN is going through a process where they are expanding the X brand globally,” Perry said. “Their intention is to have six X Games – four summer, two winter, in the future.”

ESPN put out a request for proposals for international sites after last winter. It’s narrowed the list to 43 cities, according to Perry. That process was “not open to domestic bids,” Perry said. So while other resorts would like to steal the games from Buttermilk, there is no indication that ESPN wants to move them.

“ESPN is talking to us for extension of the arrangements here, and they’re talking to Los Angeles for an extension of their summer games,” Perry said.

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He told the commissioners that a decision on the extension isn’t likely until the games take place in January, at the earliest, and the deal might not be inked until spring since ESPN is focused on finding additional international sites.

The X Games has been a boon to business for Aspen and Snowmass. It’s one of the busiest periods of the winter for lodges, condominium complexes and other tourist accommodations. Restaurants and bars are packed, and retail shops benefit. That fills government coffers with sales tax revenues.

scondon@aspentimes.com