Report: Incidents at X Games down from last year |

Report: Incidents at X Games down from last year

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart Aspen Times file

ASPEN – Incidents involving alcohol and marijuana were down dramatically at the Winter X Games in January compared with 2011, according to a report to Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday.

“It’s getting more and more family-oriented and less and less alcohol,” said Deputy Brad Gibson, of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, who served as incident commander for this year’s games. “It’s a great crowd – well behaved.”

This year, for the first time, law-enforcement officials from outside of Aspen and Pitkin County helped staff the games, easing what in past years had been exceedingly long hours for local authorities. Deputies from Eagle and Garfield counties and Glenwood Springs police helped staff the event.

Tuesday’s debriefing did not focus greatly on the calls for service recorded at Buttermilk and in downtown Aspen during the X Games, but the report tallied 73 incidents involving alcohol, compared with 137 last year, at the games and in town. In addition, there were nine calls involving marijuana, compared with 35 last year (mostly for possession, not use). Medical calls were up, from 14 last year to 27 this year. There were seven arrests this year, up from two a year ago during the four-day event.

“You’re never going to have an event without something going on,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said.

“This is really a well-run event, and we basically have very few issues to work out,” said planner Mike Kraemer, of the Community Development Department, which annually issues a special-events permit for Winter X.

After 11 years of Winter X Games at Buttermilk, many safety issues that arose in the early days have been resolved, Kraemer said.

There has long been a ban on alcohol sales at the games, though alcohol is served in VIP areas, and a countywide ban on open alcoholic beverages has been adopted, Kraemer said.

Pedestrians traveling between Aspen and Buttermilk are also better controlled; those on foot are funneled to a bike path to keep them from walking on Highway 82. And, Kraemer said, the crowd has been segregated into various corrals to help curb a large crush of people all trying to leave at the end of the night.

One change that will take place next winter – if the games return to Buttermilk – is a mandatory helmet rule for the Snowboard Street competition that debuted this year in a small-scale terrain park constructed in the base area. All other X Games athletes are required to wear helmets.

The helmet rule for the Snowboard Street competition came at the urging of local surgeon Dr. William Rodman, who watched it on television and saw a participant without a helmet fall and hit his head.

The future of the X Games at Buttermilk remains up in the air. Aspen Skiing Co. is negotiating with host ESPN to keep the event in Aspen for another two years.

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