Snowmass officials prepping for X Games, increased visitors in the village
On Thursday, X Games Aspen athletes and attendees will take to Buttermilk Ski Area for the renowned four days of winter sports competitions and celebrations.
And although the bulk of the festivities will be roughly 10 miles away from Snowmass Village, town officials are preparing to help during the games and have supported the Aspen-Snowmass competitions financially for years.
“Snowmass Tourism specifically is a huge supporter of X Games,” said Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism. “It’s been a super effective way to broaden the appeal of Aspen-Snowmass to a younger demographic and to people all over the world.”
According to Abello, X Games brings a “younger, less established” group of people to the Snowmass area that doesn’t usually come to the resort over the rest of the winter season, resulting in one of the highest occupancy periods of the year.
She also said Snowmass Tourism, with the approval and oversight of Town Council, has committed to contributing $187,000 to the X Games event at Buttermilk this year, and has given a similar chunk of money over the past five years.
But Snowmass doesn’t just write a check. The town’s police force and area fire officials also help staff and manage the public safety crew on scene at Buttermilk.
Brian Olson, Snowmass police chief, said this year there will be seven officers helping cover 21, 10 or more-hour shifts over the four days of X Games.
One officer will be managing the entire crew on the ground, Olson said, and another will be serving in the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority incident command van on site, along with one local Roaring Fork fire official.
Outside of offering public safety support at X Games, Olson also said officers are anticipating an increase in calls for service in the village.
In looking at the calls the Snowmass Police Department received the week before X Games and the week of X Games over years past, Olson said calls for service increase roughly 60% during the winter sports event.
“It’s a big weekend in the village,” Olson said. “We do a lot of people management and there’s a lot of activity on the road. … It’s tourism at its height.”
Olson said Snowmass police specifically deal with overflow parking problems in the town’s day skier lot, as some people park there and catch a bus to the X Games event at Buttermilk, and encouraged anyone coming up from down valley to utilize the Brush Creek Park and Ride and public transportation.
Scott Thompson, Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority chief, echoed similar thoughts about the X Games weekend, but said the fire authority’s calls for service don’t increase that much.
“Please don’t drive, take the bus,” Thompson said. “If you go to X Games, have patience, dress warmly and don’t over indulge because that’s usually where we see problems arise.”
But although the four-day weekend is busy for Snowmass Village, town officials including Clint Kinney, town manager, feel it is a positive addition to the events the area has to offer for locals and visitors over the winter season.
“The community is proud of the resort that’s in our community, and in order to make it flourish we need a wide spectrum of people to come here,” Kinney said.
“X Games makes sure young people know about us as a place to ski and snowboard, so they continue to come back when they’re older which creates a really positive cycle for us. We see it as a long term investment and a way to keep Aspen-Snowmass in front of the younger generations.”