X Games

X Games
X Games logo.svg
SportExtreme sports
FoundedApril 12, 1994; 25 years ago (1994-04-12)[1]
Inaugural seasonExtreme Games
TV partner(s)ESPN
ESPN2
ESPN3 (live stream)
ABC
Eurosport
ESPN Latin America
ESPN Brasil
Trans7
CTV
TSN
XGames.com

The X Games is an annual extreme sports event hosted, produced, and broadcast by ESPN. Coverage is also shown on ESPN's sister network, ABC. The inaugural X Games were held during the summer of 1995 in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island. Participants compete to win bronze, silver, and gold medals, as well as prize money.

The competition often features new tricks such as Tony Hawk's 900 in skateboarding, Travis Pastrana's double backflip in freestyle motocross, Heath Frisby's first ever snowmobile front flip in Snowmobile Best Trick, Gus Kenworthy’s first switch triple rodeo in a ski slopestyle competition and Torstein Horgmo's first landed triple cork in a snowboard competition. Concurrent with competition is the "X Fest" sports and music festival, which offers live music, athlete autograph sessions, and interactive elements.

The X Games gained media exposure due to their big name sponsors, top-tier athletes, and consistent fan attendance. As the Journal of Sport Management (2006) explains, Generation X and Generation Y are the two demographics most highly valued by marketers. This creates a broad approach on marketing towards that certain demographic, which is why the X Games marketing and economic outlook is so "out of the box". According to a 2008 report by ESPN, in 1997, the Winter X Games inaugural year, 38,000 spectators attended the four-day event. In 1998, the attendance dropped to 25,000 spectators. But just two years later, a record attendance of 83,500 people attended the Winter X Games' East Coast debut. The X Games and Winter X Games continue to grow with the popularity of action sports and the athletes who compete in them.

As part of the X Games, there have been performances by various rock bands over the years, as well as a DJ being on-site at all events. The X Games have made it a point since its founding to stage an eco-friendly event. Such measures include using biodiesel fuel in their vehicles and organizing recycling campaigns.[2]

The X Games has never carried out drug tests on competitors, a position which has been criticized by the World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman and the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.[3][4][5]

Winter X Games

Variation of X Games logo, used for Winter X Games

The Winter X Games VIII in 2002 was the first time an X Games event was televised live and also had coverage by ESPN's flagship news program, SportsCenter. Viewership across the three networks that carried coverage of the event – ABC Sports, ESPN, and ESPN2 – exceeded 2001's household average by 30% according to Nielsen Media Research. The event also reached record highs in several demographic categories. To accommodate the first-time live coverage, nighttime competitions were added, resulting in record attendance for the Aspen/Snowmass venue in Colorado.

The 2002 Winter X Games was a humongous year for ESPN and the X Games. It was the first year that the games were held in Aspen at Buttermilk Mountain. The Games continued to add new events including the ski slopestyle event, ski superpipe event, snowboarding, skateboarding etc. The most memorable incident of the 2002 Games was when the entire 2002 U.S. Olympic freestyle snowboarding team showed up to compete in the Winter X snowboard superpipe event, just weeks before the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Also in 2002, ESPN announced the establishment of the X Games Global Championship. The Global Championship featured two distinct venues hosting competitions in summer and winter action sports simultaneously. It consisted of six teams of the world's top athletes, grouped together by their region of origin, to compete in the four-day event. The winter sports were held in Whistler Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia, and the events included snowboarding and skiing.

The Winter X Games are held in January or February (usually in January) and the Summer X Games are usually held in August, both in the United States. The location of the Winter X Games is in Aspen, Colorado, through 2019, while the location for the Summer X Games has been in Los Angeles, changing to Austin, Texas, in June 2014. The X Games also has international competitions and demos around the world that are held at varying times throughout the year. The games are shown live on television.

The Winter X Games are, as described by ESPN (2008), a competition compiled of the greatest winter action sport athletes from around the world competing on an annual basis. The competition has day and evening events including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. The first Winter X Games took place at Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, California, in 1997. The following two years, the Games were held at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. The two years following that, the Games were held in Mount Snow, Vermont. Since 2002, the Winter X Games have been held at Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain and will continue to be until 2024, according to ESPN.

During 2015's Winter X Games, ESPN used camera drones to capture aerial views of the athlete's runs. This was a first for ESPN.[6]

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