It’s official: X Games Aspen set to return to Buttermilk in January with no fans |

It’s official: X Games Aspen set to return to Buttermilk in January with no fans

Snowboard icon Shaun White, Aspen gold-medalist Alex Ferreira among invited athletes


Alex Ferreira holds up his gold medal at the base of the superpipe after the men’s ski final on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Buttermilk, it’s time to get sendy, and no, we’re not talking about Friday’s opening day. ESPN made the official announcement Tuesday morning that its annual snowsports spectacle, Winter X Games, is slated to return to Aspen for the 20th consecutive year from Jan. 29 to 31.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event will look and feel decidedly different this winter. ESPN is sticking with only the skiing and snowboarding events, meaning mainstays such as snowmobile and snowbike contests will not take place.

The entire event will be closed to the public and on-site staff will be limited, although ESPN will push the virtual experience to keep fans engaged.

X Games Aspen 2021 is set to include nearly 100 athletes in 14 disciplines, with ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC airing 13.5 hours of live competition from Buttermilk. Events will include ski and snowboard superpipe, slopestyle and big air for both men and women. Also making its return will be knuckle huck for skiers and snowboarders.

What’s certainly not lacking are star athletes, with ESPN’s initial list of invitees including the who’s who of the snowsports world. This includes snowboard icon Shaun White, who has not competed at X Games since 2017, when he finished 11th. His last competitive event period was the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, where he dramatically won halfpipe gold on his final run.

Also set to return this winter is halfpipe snowboarder Chloe Kim, who sat out last year’s event at Buttermilk. Aspen’s Alex Ferreira, the two-time reigning X Games champion in halfpipe skiing, is also back. He’s the only local athlete confirmed as of Tuesday morning.

Officials with ESPN are scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon with the Pitkin County commissioners to discuss their special permit application with the county. That presentation was delayed from last week as ESPN awaited confirmation on their plan submitted with the state.

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