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Maximum exposure for Aspen Winter X Games

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ASPEN – The Winter X Games doesn’t exactly have trouble getting noticed, but the Aspen Skiing Co. figures maximum exposure never hurts.

The Skico will make sure that tens of thousands of people converging on Denver for the biggest annual ski industry trade show are well aware of what’s happening on the famed slopes of Buttermilk.

Skico has set up the X Games Viewing Lounge directly in the middle of the Snow Industries America show at the Colorado Convention Center. It’s a little oasis amid the frenetic activity in a convention hall big enough to be an airport hangar for commercial aircraft.

The SIA show runs Jan. 27-30, same as the X Games. It attracts 468 exhibitors hawking 800-plus brands of merchandise, from the big-name ski manufacturers to small-town sock makers. It also attracts thousands of buyers from ski and snowboard shops from coast to coast.

The ski show attracts “tons” of influencers or people who are trend-setters in the ski industry, said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. Many of the attendees are also some of the most dedicated skiers and riders. So Skico wants to grab their attention, and possibly lure them from Denver to Aspen for some of the games.

Couches and chairs are crowded around a large screen in the X Games Viewing Lounge. All of the events are shown live along with taped highlights between live events.

“It was very popular last year and we’re expecting it to be this year,” said Hanle.

Those who get truly inspired can take advantage of a special offering from Colorado Ski Country USA to get three free lift tickets to any of its 22 member resorts, including the four in Aspen-Snowmass. Hanle said that last year more ski show attendees used lift tickets to Aspen and Snowmass than any other Colorado Ski Country member resort.

Those willing to make the trip might have trouble finding a place to crash. The occupancy in hotels in Aspen and Snowmass Village on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will top out “north of 95 percent,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings agency.

“It’s the biggest occupancy weekend that we’ve been able to track” since the current system was implemented six years ago, Tomcich said. That’s bigger than the Christmas-New Year’s period, Presidents Day weekend and the Fourth of July, he said.

Before the X Games, this week in January was lucky to draw 70 percent occupancy, Tomcich said. And it’s not just the least expensive rooms in Aspen and Snowmass that fill up. “It fills up just about everything,” he said, noting that includes high-end rooms.

Tomcich said some rooms are still available in Snowmass on Saturday night. In addition, downvalley properties don’t seem to be filling as quickly as in some past years, he said.

The X Games attracted a record crowd of more than 84,000 spectators last season. This will be the 10th year of the Winter X Games at Buttermilk, and attendance has generally increased every year.

It’s also popular with couch potatoes. The ratings appear to jump by about 20 percent every year, according to John Rigney, Skico vice president of sales and events.

“Roughly one out of every four teenagers in the U.S. watches Winter X live,” he said.

Winter X Games 15 will be delivered to more than 382 million homes and will be televised live to 154 countries and territories, including Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Israel, Mexico, Middle East, New Zealand and South America, according to Rigney. ESPN and ESPN2 will offer 24 hours of live coverage.

“To have such tremendous reach with this demographic is amazing for our resort, as well as our sport,” Rigney said. “It reinforces Aspen’s reputation for hosting world-class events on a global scale to millions of youngsters, athletes, families and influencers.”

scondon@aspentimes.com


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