Three X Games in a row!
The Aspen Skiing Company deserves kudos for netting the ESPN Winter X Games for an unprecedented third straight year.
The lodging community and local governments deserve applause also for setting aside rooms, offering discounts and subsidizing services so Aspen can host another four-day, adrenaline-filled party next winter.
It’s only slightly ironic that on the eve of the busiest weekend this summer, the Skico and ESPN announced that Buttermilk will be the site of one of the busiest weekends next winter. But they did, and we think that’s, well … awesome.
The X Games have been held at the end of January for each of the last two seasons with great success. ESPN, the cable sports network that sponsors and broadcasts the games, has found the compact Buttermilk base area to be perfect for a five-ring circus of racing and jumping on snowmobiles, skis, snowboards and motorcycles.
And the Aspen Skiing Company has found the X Games to be the perfect way to draw tens of thousands of under-30 customers to Aspen. The games, combined with the opening of Highland Bowl, have gone a long way toward shredding the resort’s image as the Oldsmobile of skiing and boarding.
“The core reason the Skico invested in this event was to provide an appropriate counterbalance to our existing image as a posh, upscale resort,” said David Perry, Skico’s senior vice president and director of marketing.
To the rest of the world, the Skico, the resort and all of us who live here have looked a lot cooler for the last few years simply because we live in the place the X Games are held. As reported in Wednesday’s Aspen Times, we get to be extra cool for another year because “the company sweetened its offer with lodging, transportation and marketing incentives.”
The Skico won’t elaborate on the concessions it made to lure ESPN for next season, but it appears they were significant. The company has invested at least $1 million so far to make the venue work for ESPN, and Perry said next year the Skico will cover many of the costs previously covered by the network. It also sounds as if Skico owner Jim Crown had his hand in sweetening the pot for ESPN.
That’s a far cry from the “Quiet by Design” campaign that the company used a few years ago to explain away the fact that its mountains felt like they were empty most of the time.
Aspen can never again be cool like it was in the 1970s and 1980s. But thanks to the Skico, the lodging community and local governments, Aspen is getting a youthful injection of cool in 2004.
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Aspen in winter storm warning through Monday with a foot or more of snow forecast for higher elevations
The first major snowstorm of the season is expected to roll into Colorado on Sunday with the mountains around Aspen seeing up to two feet of snow by Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service.