Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“That’s a pretty scruffy crowd” said one pretty thing with admiration as she exited a flight from Denver earlier this week.

Of course, she was referring to the X-ers, the young, tattooed, ball-capped, baggy-pantsed, logo-covered passengers who were making their way from extreme-sports locales all over the world to Aspen for the de-facto Olympic Games of snow sports, the X Games.

For me this group of annual visitors could not be more welcome. Along with the Music Festival, the Ideas Festival, Food and Wine, JAS Aspen Snowmass, and so many other offerings, it is just another in a long list of world-class events that combine to make this place so special. Think about all of the things that happen in this town that don’t happen anywhere else in the world. We don’t have just one or two things, we have dozens of things that set Aspen up as a big-league town in a bunch of different games.

The X Games crowd may be one of the best because they are young and looking to have fun. They get out and enjoy ” righteously enjoy ” coming to town for all the right reasons. The vitality of the concerts, the passion of the athletes and the thrill the spectators experience while watching the events is off the hook. 

While I love World Cup skiing, in this country it lacks the enthusiasm that the European venues hold. We do a great job with the women’s events, and we wish we still had a men’s America’s Downhilll. But neither, with all due respect, would bring out the crowds the way X does.

The great news of the week is that the contract between ESPN and the Aspen Skiing Co. has been extended, meaning that the Games will remain in Aspen through 2012, or as it may come to be known, the final year of the first Obama administration.

It really is a no-brainer for both sides. The Skico gets unprecedented coverage globally of the events, and perhaps just as importantly brings the trend-setters and style-makers in youth winter sports to our town each year. These are the “early adaptors” of “infectors,” for those who subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory in “The Tipping Point,” who go out and “spread” the message of Aspen to the masses.

For ESPN, they can posture all they want, but there is no better venue in the world for their “studio” event. Sorry Crested Butte, Vail, Park City, etc. You ain’t Aspen.

Anyway, get out and about and enjoy the Games. And you can be as scruffy as you wanna be.

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