‘The world needs X Games in Aspen’: Energy boosted by Naka G and Brad Jay
Special to The Aspen Times
The energy in a sports arena can change the whole atmosphere. Announcer Brad Jay (Brad J. Lilley) and Aspen local DJ Naka G (Michael Nakagawa) know how to make the outdoor arena for X Games memorable for the onsite spectators.
In the first, full-in-person X Games Aspen event following two pandemic years, DJ Naka G had big plans for the “wild and crazy” atmosphere he wanted to create in the Buttermilk base area venue.
“If we get a hit on the field, then I have to make sure that we ramp it up. It gets people excited,” said Nakagawa, a 1995 Aspen High School graduate. Both he and Lilley are X Games veterans and have also worked together at multiple Winter Olympic Games.
Naka G makes sure all local athletes are covered when it comes to their music choice at the bottom of the hill, as they complete their run.
“I always like to make sure that the local — I don’t want to be biased, but you know, the friends and the locals like me — so I want to make sure they’re taken care of. Obviously, they got the whole town and the energy from the crowd behind them,” he said.
Plenty of locals turned out Saturday night to hear him and other music spinners keep spirits high at Mi Chola in downtown Aspen.
Back at the Buttermilk venue, working side by side on-site with Naka G is sports announcer Brad Jay, a veteran of nearly 20 Winter X Games. The former radio broadcaster said he loves working action sports. With up to five X Games events per day to cover, he has plenty of studying to do before he steps into the announcer’s booth.
His favorite X Games event is snowboard halfpipe for a number of reasons. Jay, a Californian, recalled watching Shaun White — whom he has known since the now-retired snowboarder was 10 years old — for decades. The pipe is also a favorite because the entire course can be seen from the announcer’s booth.
Before arriving here for the X Games Aspen, Jay brought life to the competitions at the Lake Placid 2023 Winter World University Games (FISU). His experience also includes stints with the L.A. Clippers.
He said he is glad to see the X Games starting to build back after COVID and the recent ownership change. In November, it was announced that broadcast company ESPN sold its controlling ownership stake in X Games to the private equity firm MSP Sports Capital.
“And to see it start to regain that is almost like, I mean, maybe it’s not watching your baby take its first steps, but it’s something like ‘Yes, it’s coming back and events are coming back.’ And the world needs X Games in Aspen,” he said.