The X Games are an event much like the Olympics, but held annually and focusing on extreme sports. Broadcast by ESPN, the Winter X Games occur in January, and the Summer X Games are held in August. Both events are held in the United States, and draw competitors from all over the world. The competition is known for frequently showcasing new tricks.
Each year, over 80,000 spectators show up to the Winter X games and over 200,000 to the Summer X Games, and thousands more watch the events on television. Along with the competitions of the X Games, ESPN also hosts the X Fest sports and music festival, with live music, autograph sessions, and other interactive activities. The event is growing each year, with more events added to the lineup, more sports stars competing, and more fans showing up to watch.
The Winter X Games will be hosted in Aspen, Colorado, through 2012, while the Summer X Games will be held in Los Angeles, as they have been for the past several years. Besides the main X Games, there are also smaller international competitions called the Global Championships, as well as demo events held by X Games at varying times through the year, all around the world.
The first Winter X Games were held in Big Bear Lake, California, in 1997. The event has also been held in Colorado and Vermont. The Winter X Games include skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling events, and have recently included new events such as free skiing, SnoCross, and SkiBoarding. New events are added every couple of years to keep up with the changing face of the extreme sports world.
The first Summer X Games took place in 1995, when the event was called Extreme Games. Competitions were held in Rhode Island and Vermont. Summer sports include inline skating, bike stunts, motocross, skateboarding, surfing, and wakeboarding.
Most of these extreme sports’ biggest stars have taken part in the X Games. Popular participants include snowboarder/skateboarder Shaun White, snowboarder Danny Kass, skier Sarah Burke, skateboarder Tony Hawk, motocross and rally racer Travis Pastrana, and many others. The X Games gain media exposure by attracting big name sponsors and the top athletes in their respective sports.
For skateboarding, the X Games currently includes six divisions: Big Air, Street Women’s, Street Men’s, Vert Men’s, Vert Women’s, and Vert Best Trick, where top skateboarders often debut new stunts. Big Air includes a 60 to 80 foot roll-in with a gap 50 or 70 feet long, ending in a 27 foot quarter pipe. This style of skateboarding was developed by pro skateboarder Danny Way, and is used exclusively at the X Games. During the street competitions, athletes perform in a concrete skate park with stairs, ledges, banks, and other features. In the vert competition, competitors ride down a 120-foot wide ramp with transitions, combining big air and lip tricks.
Scores in all three competition types are based on style, creativity, difficulty, and amplitude. Big Air competitions are untimed, while Street competitions give an allotted time of seven to fifteen minutes, and the Vert competitions include 45-second runs.