By Keating Smith, Staff Writer
I cannot help but to cynically compare X Games 16 to that of an unsupervised, poorly planned teenager’s sweet 16 birthday party. The production value and the ways in which it was broadcasted to the masses, along with the aesthetics of the course layouts and the passing of snowmobile star Caleb Moore, are just a few of the examples in which I was a little dissuaded by the Games this year.
Last year, the atmosphere of the X Games seemed more focused—especially seeing as how the death of freestyle skier, Sarah Burke, in the days leading up to the Games seemed to be on the mind of every athlete and their intentions of pushing the boundaries of their respective sport even further. This is not to say the limits of each sport were not pushed this year; but the athletes seemed to have had a different approach to winning. To top it off, the ‘ghetto’ appearance of the courses and media production left a sour aftertaste in my mouth.
I’m not sure if corporate sponsorship and funding for the X Games was less than in previous years, despite the regular corporate advertisements seen every year still maintaining a presence. The amount of helmet cam and GoPro footage that flooded the final edits made the games appear like any other point of view footage that is plaguing the Internet. From what I could see based on the amount of advertising GoPro exhibited during the Games, the camera company did have a heavy hand in corporate funding. But should this be a reason to film a large portion of X Games with dozens of $400 cameras strapped to athletes? This was just an appalling and cheap act of self-promotion of the product.
Upon examining the finer details of several courses, particularly the big-air and slope-style runs, I could understand why so many athletes fell or skipped features during their qualifying and final runs. Every feature on the slope-style course was built way too close together and the sloppiness of each feature’s appearance was utterly shocking. I understand that Aspen encountered unstable weather conditions all week with snow, rain, freezing temperatures at night, and so on, but the maintenance crew failed to iron out the creases in the runs and features at night.
Another point I’d like to address was the lack of adequate lighting used on the big air jump during the final heat, which was held after dusk. Half the time I couldn’t even see what tricks were being laid out for me.
Finally, when Shaun White ‘straight-lined’ the superpipe on his second-last run during the finals, I was both pleasantly surprised and disappointed at the same time. I have been waiting for quite some time to see White (or anyone) pull such a stint. However, his all-time low score of 1.33 from the run still put him on top of the podium, earning a gold medal thanks to his first and third runs making up for the low-scoring run. I had to take into consideration whether this move was pulled out of sheer cockiness or if White had actually “caught his front side edge,” as the commentators had speculated. However, after hearing rumors afloat in the media during the 2010 Olympics that White was going to pull the same move, I have my own thoughts as to what really happened last week—especially with the amount of Target stickers pasted all over him.
I have nothing positive to say about X Games 16. The poor course layout, awful commentating, and production values completely turned me off from watching the event for what it actually is: a playing field for the best and up-and-coming to lay new foundations for each respective sport, on display for the masses to see.