County OKs X Games | AspenTimes.com

County OKs X Games

Joel Stonington

Pitkin County commissioners unanimously approved the Winter X Games at Buttermilk from Jan. 27-31. Although the vote was unanimous, concerns were aired regarding transportation, helmets, the pedestrian masses, unpaid hospital bills and security. Last year, with only 30 minutes between the last event on a Friday night and a concert in town, there was what Commissioner Patti Clapper called “a stampede to the buses.” Many people ended up walking alongside the highway and across the Maroon Creek bridge to make it into town in time for the show, posing a safety problem.”Essentially we’ve doubled capacity,” said Anthony Dittmann, assistant director of operations for ESPN, referring to an increase in buses for the event. ESPN planners have also increased the time between the last event and the concert to one and a half hours.”I can’t guarantee someone won’t try to walk to town,” he said. But he added that Colorado State Patrol officers and private security would be at the Maroon Creek bridge telling people not to. “Because we have bigger buses we can do more bang for the buck,” said John Hocker, director of operations for RFTA. “We’ll also beef up at the highway. We think this year will be a lot better than last year.”Commissioners expressed disapproval that all participants in the Winter X Games are not required to wear helmets. “It would send a message across the world about safety and helmets,” Clapper said.Dittmann responded that industry standards on helmet use apply, with certain events requiring use. He also said he was surprised to hear unpaid hospital bills remain from last year’s event, which Pitkin County emergency management coordinator Ellen Anderson said is the case Tuesday. Dittmann said ESPN will pay all legitimate bills it is sent. Joe DiSalvo of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said ESPN has pledged to pay Pitkin County for 100 percent of time logged by police officers for the event. Plans currently call for roughly one police officer per 1,000 participants. There will also be roughly 100 private security people on duty through the games. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com