2019 Winter X Games Kick Off In Aspen

Jan 24, 2019

The Winter X Games have begun. The annual extreme sports event has been hosted by Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain since 2002, featuring extreme skiing, snowboarding and other winter action sports competitions.

KUNC's Desmond O'Boyle checked in with Alcyin Becktesh, news director for Aspen Public Radio, on what's new this year.

"It's kind of like the stepchild, like more of a punk way of competing than the Olympics — which is of course worldwide and more professional — but I would say that this is a little more low-key, a lot more access to fans," said Becktesh.

The economic impact to the Roaring Fork Valley is significant. Last year 115,000 visitors came for the X Games — and just for reference, the population of Aspen is about 7,000.

For the first time, there's a new pass that combines X Games, entertainment and an actual ski pass to Aspen's mountains.

The Big Air Jump and the Super Pipe, right at the base of Buttermilk Mountain, are free to spectate.

Becktesh thinks there are a few famous X Games athletes the crowd will enjoy.

"Jamie Anderson has the most X Games medals period of any athlete. She'll be back competing on her snowboard in multiple events," she said. "Most of the local crowd will have their eye on ... Alex Ferrara. He silvered in the ski halfpipe in the Olympics in 2018 and he's just a hometown kid, so he's always a popular draw."

As for new events in 2019, there will be a film series for the first time ever.

This year, the X Games added Snowboard Knuckle Huck, Para Snow BikeCross and Adaptive Snow BikeCross as new medaled disciplines.

The sporting event is also a four-day music festival. This year's lineup includes Lil Wayne, Louis The Child, The Chainsmokers and Kygo. Fair warning: the performances are held outside, so if cold weather and snow isn't your thing, then bundle up.