Ski blog: Old at the X-Games |

Ski blog: Old at the X-Games

Austin Richardson
Vail CO, Colorado

BUTTERMILK MOUNTAIN, Aspen, Colorado ” Aspen is a place for old people.

Buttermilk Mountain, not necessarily.

Especially when the X-Games are in town.

A security guard from Kansas City, on loan for the games, said there was an 86-year old woman attending the event on Saturday. Cold, yes, but not cold enough to keep grandma away. She was “hobbling” around on her ski poles, smiling the whole time, reports say.

Mostly though, there are parents who’ve been conned into coming to Buttermilk to placate their children. Cheaper than skiing, I suppose. That is until the whining begins for a new snowboard or jacket.

Under normal circumstances, only the parents of young children would be at one of snowsports biggest stages. The X-Games brings with it connotations of youth, extreme flexibility and fearlessness. That is certainly reflected in the makeup of the crowd. Very few fogies among the hipsters.

Nowhere in the job description does is say that old people are considered or even acknowledged. The money men behind the scenes wouldn’t allow their product to be compromised by allowing anyone but the most hip, best looking

The oldest people at the event are either making the broadcast happen, the food show up on time and policing alcoholic beverages somehow snuck into the venue or driving the bus. Anyone in their late 30s or early 40s is simply kidding themselves.

No new snow has fallen in the past 24 hours, so the signs of populace are showing in the snow. Cigarrette butts, spilled Mountain Dew and Red Bull cans. Thankfully for the security, only the regular sized taurine-laced drinks are available. Not the giant, Wal-Mart-sized cans of liquid ambition, no those gratefully aren’t on the scene. Caffeine-fueled violence is always a danger here at the testosterone laden X-Games. If you’re on a snowboard, just be sure to be courteous to the skier you’ve just cut off. There’s a chance he’ll punch you for the infraction.

Ho’s and Bro’s (boys and girls for the uninitiated) are everywhere. The cooler and bigger the ego, the better. There’s no better place on the planet to check them out. It’s a nice place to visit, but not the greatest place to live. The novelty wears off quickly.

The “cool factor” is here, baby, big time. There could really be no cooler place for either an erstwhile skateboard punk or snow-shuffling, knuckle dragging powderhound to be. It’s the biggest “cool” event of the year. That is unless you live in Europe, then every single World Cup ski race is better attended and “more important.”

The press tent is full of cooler-than-cool journos. They’re all star-gazers at heart, though. American media HAS to be here, but the foreign correspondents are most starstruck by the larger than life folks that comprise the ultra-hip ranks of snowsports crowd.

The only people who aren’t phased by all the glamour are the snowmobilers. Nobody in the media tent is focused on them. The sport seems so fresh that it hasn’t been lumped in with all the rest of the ‘cool dudes.’

But that isn’t always the case in the stands. There are plenty of folks here to see the new 4-stroke Yamaha blaze past the lighter Kawasaki on the ‘up-slopes.’ “You’ve got to FEEL it,” said one of the commentators. Hopefully, not many of them “feel” their snowmachine fall on themselves.

Motorsports dudes are either the kids in shop class who tear down motors and assemble motorcycles to keep themselves in the game or the rich kids who take their snowmachines to the shop all the time because their parents think, “it’s better than drugs.” Doubtless these machines need a lot of maintenance and TLC to keep them running so fast.

Like a car race, certain numbers of spectators are here for the spectacular crashes. For some reason, it’s easier to watch a 500 pound snowmobile land on someone than to see a skier completely crash into the safety netting. Although the stakes are higher when snowmobiles are involved, there seem to be more crashes among the Skiercross competitors that anyone else. They are learning the hard about the “rubbing is racing” analogy used so often by stock car racers.

All in all, it’s a pretty safe game. That is, until one of the suped-up snowmobiles lands on you in the middle of a back flip or you get tangled in the safety netting on the skiercross course.

Enjoy the product placement.

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