Roger Marolt: Y the X-Games make me zzzz
January 24, 2019
Are the X Games good for Aspen's reputation? Isn't the traffic terrible? What about all the thugs in town? Do the cheapskates spend any money? What kind of message are we sending to _____?
Every question about the Games is loaded. Maybe its the coffee shop crowds antsy over another busy weekend. Attitudes get amplitude when locals get foamy and caffeinated. In the old days, before cappuccinos and lattes, they might have slugged down bullet coffee — laced with butter instead of whipped cream, or something like that. Supposedly it was a cure for constipation. I wonder if Aspenites were mellower then.
People ask what I think about the X Games. The truth is I don't think too much about them. I don't mean that diminutively. I don't think about what's going on at Buttermilk, pretty much ever. Town is busier, yes, but that ebb and flow of tourismic indulgence follows the moon phases through all seasons anymore. Be it Food & Wine, JAS, the world snow polo championships (my favorite), the Fourth of July, or et cetera, a special event by any name is still just another weekend in Aspen.
I've already seen the most exciting thing I will see this weekend. Main Street was as slippery as a developer talking City Council into plowing some required offsets he's required to pay right back into his own project, for the benefit of us, of course.
At any rate, this woman walked up and pressed the button for the pedestrian crosswalk signal and then didn't break stride from sidewalk into the intersection. She never looked. The car next to me, doing about 15 miles per hour due to the treacherous conditions, hit the brakes and went sideways through said intersection. His bumper missed hers by a foot. No sooner had I caught my breath when I saw the car was still in danger of crashing into the street light. It stopped inches short.
The driver was as pale as last night's last oyster left out on a folding table in the back of the VIP tent. The woman continued baby-stepping, concentrating on her balance. She had no idea she could be dead, but then, I suppose, none of us do either.
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I could blame that incident on the X Games (because some would), but it made flying off the money-booter look dull by comparison. Not even the creators of ESPN's made-for-TV event could come up with anything as extreme as skating, eyes-down, across Main Street in fashionable footwear at rush hour.
I used to pay more attention to the X Games. Learning about them wasn't enough to hold my attention. I can't keep track of the rotations on the jumps when replayed in super slow-motion with the announcer counting them for me. It's easier to watch "The Voice" while reading a magazine.
I like the buzz of X Games, though. Walking through town in the early evening after skiing and before the marquee events begin, you think they are going to hand out a prize for the coolest person. It doesn't matter if you are fan or foe of the Games, everyone knows more about it than anyone else and is dressed appropriately to prove it. It's like one and all are vying to kiss this gigantic invisible ESPN butt that nobody has ever even seen and there isn't a drink coupon, much less a foam Taco Bell hat, at stake.
Are the X Games good for Aspen? It depends.
To me, it seems the constitution of the Games contradicts our sacred mind, body and spirit philosophy. Even the athletic events appear to be harder on the body than they are healthy. And by that I only mean you have a pretty good chance of breaking body parts in the competitions. Mix some snowmobile fumes into the weed-smoke thunderhead above the crowd and breathe the mixture in deeply with your belly full of schnapps, and you've pretty much lost the case for civilized man.
On the other hand, we get some publicity out of it and it probably leads some young people to get hooked on Aspen, and we certainly need to get some of them to replace those of us who are aging out of it faster than we think or admit. I haven't heard of any better vision for our future, so one that wriggles in the hands is worth two in the think tank.
What it comes down to, though, is that for four days in the dead of winter, our town is full of people having fun. If we complain too loudly about that, it might be better to wade in than fly off the handle.
Roger Marolt doesn't plan to watch the X-Games on television, but probably will anyways. Email at email@example.com.