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From near and far

Naomi Havlen
Paul Parkan, 63, of Farmington, N.M., and his daughter Julie Madey of Rifle wait for a bus heading to the Winter X Games on Friday at the Cozy Point parking area. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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They came crunching across the packed snow of the Cozy Point parking lot, toting snowboards, small children and cans of Red Bull.

Some of them were just feeling the fresh mountain air after long car trips from neighboring states, and some of them had no idea what they were in for. All of them, however, had a certain bounce in their steps as they headed toward buses that sat idle between trips to and from the ESPN Winter X Games.”We’re X Games extremists,” said Jordan “JP” Peterson, 18, who drove to Aspen with a group of friends from Logan, Ogden and Farmington, Utah. “This is an extreme pilgrimage.”

Peterson said all it took to get them here was a preview for the games on ESPN two weeks ago. He turned to his friend Nick Wightman and said, “We should go.” The group of seven piled into the car on Thursday afternoon and stayed in Glenwood Springs for the night before arriving at Cozy Point.Kate Sessions, 19, stood with the group and rattled off names of female professional snowboarders she was looking forward to seeing, like Hannah Teter, Tara Dakides and Kelly Clark. The guys planned on painting the letters “EXPN” on their chests for Saturday’s competitions.When asked if they thought they’d be cold without shirts on in this January mountain climate, Peterson shrugged. “We’re X Games extremists, not X Games mediocres.”Three siblings from Aurora stood next to their open trunk at 9:30 a.m., fresh from their drive up. Froya Jesse, 20, ate the last of her sandwich while her younger brothers, Josh, 16 and Tevia, 18, stood with their hands in their pockets, waiting to get on the bus.

“We left at 6 a.m. this morning,” Froya said. “We wanted to go, so I got them out of school for the day.”The guys said they were only here for the day, so they’d be happy to see anything they could at Buttermilk: Moto X, the superpipe and “cool tricks.”Ten-year-olds Quinton Bell and Tyler Maize from Glenwood just looked thrilled to be out of school for the day but said they were looking forward to seeing the snowmobile snocross and skiers and snowboarders in the superpipe.

It might have seemed like a young crowd, but Paul Parham, 63, of Farmington, N.M., looked just as excited as anyone else. Parham decided to visit his daughter Julia Mason in Rifle this weekend, specifically because of the X Games.”I enjoy outdoor sports, extreme sports, and I’ve never seen anything like this before in person,” he said before heading to the bus. Mason agreed that her dad is pretty cool to come up to visit and witness some extreme sports.A little ways away a group of friends piled out of the car after spending 16 hours driving from Helena, Montana. Daniel Gragert, 19, said his stepfather works for ESPN, so he convinced his friends to come along on the trip to Aspen. The group of five was most excited to see skier Pep Fujas. Gragert and his friend Chris King, 19, both brought their ski and snowboard gear with them to hit the slopes between events.The nervous parents and sister of boardercross first-time competitor Nick Baumgartner crossed the parking lot, saying they were heading to Buttermilk to watch Nick practice. Nick’s a “Yooper,” they said, meaning their family is from the upper peninsula of Michigan – specifically from the town of Iron River.

Jessica Kammunen, 17, and Sarah Martin, 18, left Winter Park at 4:45 a.m. to drive to Aspen, and the Smierciak family from Dillon said they came for the X Games specifically because their 5-year-old son Brock is already “a rippin’ skier” and wanted to see all the action.Parents Bill and Kim Purmort from VanWert, Ohio, were alone as they headed for the bus to Buttermilk, saying their college-aged kids were busy skiing at Snowmass. But they’ll be in the Roaring Fork Valley until Wednesday, taking part in all of the X Games activities and after-parties.”I think they’re psyched about Moto X and about the men’s halfpipe,” Bill said about his kids, chuckling as he acknowledged that they were the only set of parents in the parking lot without kids.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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