X Games return to Aspen in January 2013, event organizers confirmed Thursday. ESPN decided to cut the events, as well as Mono Skier X, and will not build the X Course for the first time in history.
Snowboarder X was one of three events that had taken place every year since the Winter X Games debuted in 1997, along with Snowboard Superpipe and Slopestyle. Skier X had been staged 15 of those 16 years, starting in 1998. Mono Skier X was added to the docket five years ago.
Meanwhile, two events that were dropped last year, Snowmobile SnoCross and Speed and Style, are returning to the 2013 Aspen schedule. SnoCross had been featured for 14 straight years before it was omitted from X Games Aspen 2012.
"It's a devastating blow to our sport and skiercross, too, because X Games has been our Super Bowl for years", said Nate Holland, who has won six of the past seven gold medals in Snowboarder X. Holland said he appreciated the opportunity to work with ESPN in the past, but he's expecting to take a financial hit with the loss of the sport's most prestigious annual event. "I have sponsors that put a value on X Games and the exposure I get there," he said. "Basically, my stock went down as soon as that news came out".
"No Skier X comes as a surprise to me since X Games put it on the map and (helped foster) the progress it's made to the Olympic level", Daron Rahlves, the 2008 Skier X gold medalist and promoter of the Rahlves Banzai Tour, said in an e-mail from Chile. "Skicross athletes look forward to the X Games for the best track of the year and the big stage to compete on".
"It's definitely perplexing", 2011 Mono Skier X gold medalist Josh Dueck said. "It's not the only mono skiercross race, but in my eyes it is because it does it on a level no other event matches. There's no better exposure we can get for our sport. And right now we're young and growing exponentially. This is a huge, huge hit to the evolution we're seeing. It's hard to digest".
Tim Reed, senior director of content strategy for ESPN X Games, didn't dismiss the possibility of the disciplines being added to future X Games events. "There's nothing to say we won't do X course next year", he said. "We believe in the sport, we love it, we've been doing it for a lot of years. Ultimately we just made the decision that we're going to focus on pipe, slope, big air, a full complement of snowmobiles and snowboard street".