EXCLUSIVE: Athletes react to ESPN’s decision to cut global X Games stops

The 2013 Tignes X Games pipe | Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images The 2013 Tignes X Games pipe | Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

X Games, one of the largest action sports contest series in the world, is reigning itself back in, trading global for local. ESPN has announced that it will not continue to hold X Games events in Barcelona, Munich, Foz do Ignuacu, Brazil, and Tignes, France. The Winter X Games will return to Aspen, CO, and the Summer X Games will make its way to Austin, TX.

ESPN notes, “We are proud to have run world-class competitions for both the athletes and spectators; however the overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path.  The company remains fully committed to the X Games brand and its full-scale competitions in Aspen, Colorado and Austin, Texas – its newest host city – and we will continue to distribute these premier events around the world.”

So what does this mean for the riders? We hit up some of X Games’ top slopestyle and halfpipe riders to get their opinions on ESPN’s latest move, and the fact that it means the end of the Tignes, France Winter X Games stop:

Gretchen Bleiler —“I applaud ESPN for going global to extend the energy and excitement of action sports across the world. I wish it could be profitable for them because I know how great it was for those international athletes to compete in their home regions and share this movement with them. However at the same time, Aspen has always felt like the “grand show” so I’m happy that we’re back to focussing all of our attention there again.”

Mark McMorris —“I was definitely surprised because of how many people were always there but on a year like this one it’s just one less contest to stress about.”

Spencer O’Brien — “I was surprised to hear the news that ESPN is cutting the Tignes stop… The past four years have been really fun in Tignes and I felt like the past two years the event was really coming into its own. The turnout always seemed good spectator wise and for women’s slope it’s been some of the highest riding we’ve ever seen. I think the global expansion was a lot to take on so I understand how hard it must of been economically for them, but I’m sad that they cut all four international stops.”

Louie Vito — “I am bummed there will no longer be an XGames in Tignes.  I thought Tignes and XGames put on a great event the last couple years and it was one of my favorite halfpipes of the year but I believe in the XGames brand so I am sure they do everything for a good reason.”

Jamie Anderson — “That’s very unfortunate they canceled X-Games Tignes, that was one of my favorite events!”

 Zack Black — “It’s sad to see… each year the public demands more danger from snowboarders and action sports athletes in general, but each year there are less contest opportunities…it’s about knowing that the risks don’t outweigh the rewards when you’re snowboarding, and with less exposure it’s hard to justify what we do.”

Matt Ladley — “I’m surprised that LA will no longer be a stop. That’s the only summer venue I have been to but if has always blown my mind how much attention it brings to sponsors, competitors, etc. As for winter, I’m glad Aspen will still host the X Games… I think there are pros and cons to having only 1 winter stop versus having multiple— with only one stop for each season it gives ESPN a good chance to focus 100% on those stops and to make them the pinnacle of winter and summer extreme sports events.”

Ellery Hollingsworth — “After hearing that ESPN has chosen to cut it’s global X Games presence, I was definitely a bit bummed knowing I won’t be finishing off my contest seasons in Tignes, France at the European X Games. That being said, Winter X Games in the US is still my favorite contest, so I’m looking forward to that!”

Stay tuned — we will keep updating this post as the opinions roll in…


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