X Games Preview: Snowmobile and snow bike
Joe Parsons is back to defend his freestyle title but more important the 30 year old from Washington is trying to become the most decorated Winter X Games athlete — his 17 medals (five golds) are second only to snowboarder Shaun White’s 18. (White is scheduled to compete Sunday in the halfpipe.) Parsons will ride in the freestyle, which he has won the past two years, as well as in the return of speed and style, in which he took silver in 2015. Minnesota’s Levi LaVallee, who has 11 medals in six sled genres at X Games, is always a crowd favorite, as is Idaho’s Heath Frisby and Swede Daniel Bodin. But for the first time in five years and second time since its debut in 1998, the snocross race is not on the schedule, meaning 10-time X Games gold medalist Tucker Hibbert won’t be in Aspen. Hibbert, who has won 15 snocross medals since 2000, posted on social media that “the X Games has been a huge part of my career and life for almost 20 years” and he is “disappointed” the event was dropped. Snocross was removed in 2012 but brought back the next year. In it’s place this week is the return of speed and style, which is back after two years off. A refresher, two riders go head to head and hit three tricks; the first one over the finish gets bonus points to go with the judges’ scores on their hits. Colten Moore, who broke his back last year attempting a double-backflip in the best trick event and whose brother died here five years ago, will be in Aspen but as a judge in the motorized events.
Finals: Speed and Style, 6:30 p.m. Thursday; Freestyle 5:30 p.m. Friday
After breaking onto the snow scene a few years ago, these modified motorcycles — a snowmobile-like track on the back and a ski on the front — brought a new energy to the Winter X Games last year in its debut in Aspen. The snow bikecross will take to the track Saturday afternoon and features defending champ Canadian Brock Hoyer, a dirtbike racer who won by nearly 12 seconds last year over Colton Haaker, a longtime enduro racer. Added to the snow bike schedule is a best trick event Sunday night to end the weekend with eight riders getting two runs. Another quirky addition this year is the Harley-Davidson snow hill climb, which will take place Sunday night in the superpipe after the men’s snowboard finals. They’ll race side-by-side going up the pipe on modified dirt bikes (but with wheels) and the winner advances to the next round. We won’t even try to handicap this one.
Finals: Snow bikecross, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (qualifiers at 2:30 p.m.); Best trick, 8 p.m. Sunday; snow hill climb, 8:15 p.m. Sunday
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The Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission voted this week to open the tract of land near Aspen for mountain lion hunting.