Aspen remains site of Winter X Games through 2019

By: The Associated Press
January 22, 2014 Updated: January 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm
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photo - Aspen snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler said $30,000 for a win this week at the Winter X Games would be an “added bonus.” Her top priority is perfecting her runs for the Vancouver Games next month. (AP file)
Aspen snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler said $30,000 for a win this week at the Winter X Games would be an “added bonus.” Her top priority is perfecting her runs for the Vancouver Games next month. (AP file) 

ASPEN — ESPN and Aspen Skiing Company announced Wednesday a five-year extension that will keep the event in Aspen through 2019.

This weekend will be the 13th straight year Winter X has staged snowboard, ski and snowmobile events in the ritzy city.

The fact it's staying put will certainly be welcome news to snowboarder Shaun White, who will again participate before the Sochi Games.

"It's probably the best facility in world right now. The X Games does pull out all stops," said White, who's won more than a dozen gold medals at Winter X.

There was a time when the winter action sports event roamed from venue to venue every two years, staging events in Big Bear Lake, Calif., Crested Butte and Mount Snow, Vt., before arriving in Aspen in 2002, where it's remained ever since.

With the deal involving Aspen set to expire after this weekend, ESPN explored other options, just to see what else was out there. The company made a similar move a few months ago with Summer X, eventually leaving Los Angeles for Austin, Texas, after an 11-year run.

In the end, the company decided a return to Aspen simply made "a lot of sense," said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of ESPN programming and X Games.

"It seemed like a natural fit," Guglielmino said in a phone interview. "One of the things, from an Aspen perspective, was it really works for us. With the Winter X Games, it's a little bit of a different animal than Summer X. We have a big footprint. When we show up, we take up quite a bit of resources, in terms of different hills we use, the personnel, the hotel rooms and all that.

"You put all that together and Aspen is a terrific fit for X Games."

The identity of Aspen has been intertwined with Winter X since its arrival. It's one of the high points of the season for the resort, a week when the lodges around town quickly sell out. To keep it in town was a coup for the city, said John Rigney, the vice president of sales and events for Aspen Skiing Company.

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