Alison Berkley: Games fit for The Princess | AspenTimes.com
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Alison Berkley: Games fit for The Princess

Just when life started to get back to normal, the X Games came to town.Goody gumdrops! Forget about private jets and monster homes and little dogs in sweaters. The only thing flying over our little mountain enclave this weekend are all those bad-ass athletes, flipping and spinning in their young, virile glory. Woo-hoo!That means well actually have something to do at night besides fight off all those horny Aussie/Kiwi/Brit/South Africans at McStorlies. Ladies, rejoice!Our usual man-tide will rise as the waves of X Gamers descend upon us from places like Lake Tahoe and Whistler and Salt Lake and So Cal, where the testosterone flows like beer and manly men grow on trees (or so I was told). Big crowds and parties and TV cameras and concerts, oh my! Forget about whatever you read last week in the Aspen Daily News and put me on that guest list nothing will stand between me and a good backside grab.Oh, relax. Its just an expression. You might as well get used to it because the Winter X Games has found a home here in Aspen, just like me. Is that a fabulous coincidence or what? Anyhoo, I dont mean to brag, but I have been around the whole extreme scene since before they even coined a term for it. Yep, back in the day when I used to be a real live editor for a very sophisticated snowboarding magazine, I witnessed the first-ever Winter X Games at Snow Summit, Calif., in 1997.That was back when events like super modified shovel racing and speed ice climbing raised a few pierced eyebrows. Athletes and industry folk alike were skeptical about a mainstream cable network exploiting their hardcore image for profit. It was the first time there had been so many cameras and jumbo TVs and live bands and spectators in one place, like a theme park with action sports heroes instead of roller coaster rides.I remember watching that first womens slopestyle event on the bulletproof slopes of snow-less Snow Summit. The course included a gap jump filled with Mountain Dew. I cringed as the competitors flew over that big eerie green pool and imagined what would happen if one of them fell into it. That cold, sticky, liquid trap made me think thats where wed all end up, drowning in a deep puddle of corporate sugar and artificial coloring.Of course Im the first one to admit when Im wrong. The truth is, no one had the foresight of ESPN in recognizing the true potential of these sports or the possibility that they could be embraced by the mainstream without being severed from their alternative cultural roots.In the end, everyone enjoyed the perks of its success, from the athletes who achieved fame and recognition beyond their wildest dreams to the spectators who (surprise!) actually appreciated the athleticism and excitement of sports that dont include busty cheerleaders or Astroturf. Even the most anti-establishment pro athletes caved in once they saw their mugs on that Jumbotron thing or realized how famous they are in Japan.The idea of building an event around television programming rather than the other way around was ESPNs golden ticket. Never before had these athletes seen so many goddamned cameras. The cameras loved the athletes, too, consuming all that personality and individuality in mega bites. Mix that with high-flying action with big-stakes competition and youve got the fixings for a great show for TV viewers and spectators alike.But who would have guessed that this successful action sports mega-event would land in Aspen, now the longest-running venue in Winter X Games history? To think that the same resort that banned snowboarding on one of its mountains less than three years ago would play host to that very same sport and all its masses (for six years running no less) is a beautiful thing. Its like the day you grow up and stop fighting with your siblings because you realize how much it means to be from the same family.I think that Walter Pupcake guy would have been proud of this generations spin on The Aspen Idea, even if it is in the form of a lofty 720 Crippler in the SuperPipe. I mean, it definitely ties together culture (snap, crackle, pop) art (tattoos), and even physics (back flips on a snowmobile?).It maintains that whole Aspen-as-Utopia philosophy, bringing in thousands of raging fans and their coolers of beer from all over the country for an all-ages action sports fest, like a four-day tailgate party but better. Theyre even letting the kids take a day off from Aspen public schools. Teacher conferences, my butt.I for one cant wait to look up in the sky and see something flying by that isnt a Lear jet. (Living in the ABC Ill admit Ive developed a teeny-eeny-weeny fear of planes crashing into my house.) Yippity doo-da! The bottom line is its here in our back yard and its going live and the show is on and its bigger than ever.We are the home of the Winter X Games, baby. So stick that in your halfpipe and smoke it.[The Princess wants to make it clear that she does not inhale. E-mail your approval to her at alison@berkleymedia.com]


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