Storm snuffs several events
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A major snowstorm moved into Aspen yesterday morning, disrupting the third day of the Winter X Games.
As the storm picked up in intensity through the morning and early afternoon, one event was disrupted while in progress, two were canceled and rescheduled for today, and droves of fans went home disappointed.
The boardercross races for both men and women were postponed a day, as was the Moto X best trick. But the event that was most affected by the weather was the ski slopestyle, which was interrupted by the storm near the end of the the preliminary round that determines who gets into the finals.
Two racers, including Snowmass Village’s Steele Spence, were forced to wait it out at the top of the course while race officials sideslipped the course to reduce the amount of fresh powder.
Carbondale’s Peter Olenick, who took the silver medal, said powder throws competitors off their game, forcing them to change their tactics going into the rails and jumps. “You have to go straight and land perfect,” Olenick said.
Neither Spence nor Nick Mercon made it to the finals after waiting 15 minutes outside at the top of the course before getting the green light to take their second qualifying run.
The Moto X event, which features motorcycle riders performing big-air tricks, was postponed because of low visibility and unusually slick conditions on the landing. A thin layer of snow atop the icy ramp turned the prospect of back flips and twists on a motorcycle from risky to treacherous.
“There’s no traction on the landing, so their wheels slip out from under them,” explained ESPN Moto X commentator Jamie Little.
“We’re watching this weather minute by minute, and we’ll make the call by 1:15 when we’re supposed to go live,” she said about 45 minutes before the decision to postpone the event was made.
The storm also forced the postponement of the men’s and women’s boardercross. Pushing two of Sunday’s events into today forced ESPN to reschedule some of today’s events as well. (See schedule, page A1.)
“Our schedule over the past couple of days has been solid,” Melissa Gullotti, ESPN director of media relations, said. “The TV scheduling for [today] and Tuesday allowed for some open time.”
The weather may be a continuing factor over the final two days.
As of last night, the National Weather Service pegged the chance of snow today at 40 percent. Temperatures, which plummeted from the upper 20s to the mid-teens as the storm picked up yesterday, are predicted to range today between 4 and 11 degrees.
Mike Seidel, a meteorologist and journalist who is covering the X Games for The Weather Channel, said the system that moved in yesterday was an upper-level trough.
“We had a virtual whiteout. That’s why they canceled the Moto X best trick,” Seidel said.
Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org