2014 Winter X Games: athletes & Aspen ready for another round

Comments by Kelli Lynn Hargrove/

Another year, another X Games. Bright lights will once again illuminate the 22-foot walls of the Buttermilk superpipe and the massive booters of the slope course as the top competitors duke it out for X Games glory.

xgames_bts_zluchs-11 The pipe in progress | P: Zach Luchs

2014 marks the 13th year the X Games have been held in Aspen, CO, and as ESPN announced today in an X Games press conference, the town will continue to host this event for the next 5 years. Gretchen Bleiler, an Aspen local who has been proving her prowess on her home turf for many years, expressed her excitement at the agreement, noting that though she travels the world to snowboard, nothing beats coming home to ride.

Bleiler and a slew of X Games’ top riders, Sage Kotsenburg, Jamie Anderson, Kelly Clark, Elena Hight & Louie Vito among them, gathered today to discuss X Games, Sochi, and the US riders’ aggressive Olympic triple-Grand Prix contest schedule this past weekend in Mammoth.

Also see: Tune In: complete 2014 X Games event television schedule

Addressing the rumor that ‘Second-run-Sage’ might have met his end in Mammoth — ‘Second-run-Sage’ being the nickname given to Kotsenburg as he has a bad habit of falling on his first run before making a big comeback in his second during contests— Sage said, “I kind of blew it last weekend, I landed 3 first runs and made 3 podiums, that’s not really like me. Usually I always fall on my first run and come back for the second run. But I think ‘Second-run-Sage’ might have been retired, we’ll see tomorrow though.”

2014_xgames_aspen_bts_zluchs-10 View from the top | P: Zach Luchs

Kelly Clark and Jamie Anderson each spoke about their decision to compete in the X Games, given that they are both heading to Sochi in just a few short weeks to compete in the Olympics. Clark responded to questions by saying that “the best way to prepare for big competitions is to do big competitions…The X Games usually has one of the best pipes of the season, so for us to get in a great halfpipe, where we have a night final, which is what we’re going to have in Russia, it’s gonna be great practice for us to go and put down some of our hardest runs in similar conditions that we’re going to see in a few weeks time. Every day that I’m out there riding, I’m putting down runs that are of caliber of my Sochi runs. And right now I know exactly what those runs are. I know exactly what they should look like, and I’m going to use this X Games as practice to continue to put them down.”

Addressing the craziness of 3 back-to-back contests in Mammoth, Clark continued, “some of the pressure was definitely off in Mammoth for me, but I use every contest as an opportunity to push myself; I take contests seriously whether they mean something or not I’m out to do my best, on any given day, regardless of the outcome or regardless of what’s going on around me, so I was happy for the contest practice for Sochi. Getting in those high-level competitive events is really beneficial to me as a snowboarder, but I’m from Mammoth, I was home, the pipe was perfect, so perhaps it was a little bit more relaxed.”

xgames_bts_zluchs-8 The slope course taking shape | P: Zach Luchs

“The US has some of the greatest snowboarders on the planet, and our qualifiers are highly competitive and can be intense and so I was happy to lock up my spot after the first two events and really release some of that pressure and really focus on my snowboarding. We didn’t know what was going to happen this last weekend in Mammoth and the contest finished up and they officially named the team and I’m honored to be a part of it to represent my country for the fourth time and I’m looking forward to giving it my all in Russia.”

Jamie Anderson added, “this is one of my favorite events. Great course, and a good time to get in the mode, ride, train, and get in the mind-set for Sochi.”

The X Games kick off on Thursday, January 23 with the Men’s Slopestyle Elimination going down at 12 pm MST, followed by the Men’s Superpipe Elimination at 5:45 pm MST. Stay tuned, we’ll be posting up the results as the riders put them down.