Snowmobile racing will play a bigger role at the 2015 X Games Aspen event in the coming winter, thanks to an expanding menu of events that brings back to all-time favorites, though it comes at the expense of some of the high-flying, creative events.
The Speed & Style event that combines points earned for doing freestyle tricks off of huge jumps with the time it takes to run the course returns again — it’s been on-again/off-again with X Games for some time.
More shockingly, HillCross racing makes a triumphant return to the winter version of the X Games. Ten years ago, HillCross racing — which is an uphill drag race with huge jumps — was an emerging aspect of snowmobile racing, thanks largely to the kickstart it got from X Games exposure back then. But after X Games dropped it and then a couple of race circuits floundered, it has become more regional in nature. Maybe, with its return to the X Games, it will get reinvigorated.
Hillcross was contested four times at what was then called Winter X. The most successful athlete was Carl Kuster — he took gold in the event in 2001 and 2002, and medaled behind winners T.J. Gulla in 2003 and Levi LaVallee in 2004.
Also at X Games Aspen, Snocross, Snowmobile Long Jump and Adaptive Snocross return to the roster. Taking a hit this year are the Freestyle and Best Trick competitions within the snowmobile ranks. The X Games have been an important point of exposure for some extreme snowmobile athletes, yet the competition has also been marred by tragedy, most notably the horrific death of Caleb Moore at the 2013 games. Aside from the shadow of that tragic event, X Games insiders have also told us that, with each passing year, it has become harder and harder to come up with a full field of competitors for the Freestyle events.
Below is the press release sent out today by the ESPN, owner of the X Games.
X Games Aspen 2015 Reveal Sport Disciplines
More Medaled Adaptive Events than Ever Before; Snowmobile HillCross and Speed & Style Return
When X Games Aspen returns for a 14th event in Aspen Snowmass, Colo., from January 22-25, the winter action sports and youth lifestyle festival will descend upon Buttermilk Mountain with an expanded and fully-medaled adaptive sport lineup and the return of Snowmobile HillCross and Speed & Style, showcasing the talents of more than 200 world-class athletes from around the globe. X Games Aspen 2015 – with live coverage on ESPN and ABC and an extensive array of content across digital platforms –will also present a Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding dual slalom competition on Thursday, Jan. 22. Each team will consist of one Special Olympics athlete and one X Games athlete as they race down the X course. Athletes will include X Games and Olympic Snowboard SuperPipe gold medalist and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Hannah Teter.
Previously staged as a demonstration at X Games Aspen in 2011 and 2012, the world’s best adaptive snowboarders will race head-to-head in the Snowboarder X Adaptive discipline for the first time as a medaled event, joining Mono Skier X and SnoCross Adaptive in the competition lineup.
Snowmobile Speed & Style returns to X Games Aspen after taking a brief hiatus in 2014, while Snowmobile HillCross make its first appearance since 2004. Unlike other competitions staged on the X course, HillCross is an uphill race on a course filled with jumps, banks and rollers. Seven-time, multi-discipline snowmobile gold medalist Levi LaVallee will attempt to repeat his dominance in both competitions, where he took home the last Speed & Style gold in 2013 and HillCross gold more than a decade ago.
“We are proud to showcase 19 competitions at X Games Aspen, which will include more medaled adaptive disciplines than ever before,” said Tim Reed, ESPN X Games senior director, events & content. “We also look forward to the new, fresh look of Buttermilk Mountain, which will serve as the backdrop to not only our competitions but to our expanded music and festival areas, embodying the youth culture and lifestyle that exists at the core of the X Games.”
The X Games Aspen 2015 sports and disciplines are as follows:
|Slopestyle (M & W)
|Slopestyle (M & W)
|SuperPipe (M & W)
|Snowboarder X (M & W)
|Mono Skier X
|SuperPipe (M & W)
|Snowboarder X Adaptive
|Speed & Style
In addition to being the world’s premiere action sports competition, X Games Aspen will showcase an expanded world-class lineup of music artists and performances, which will be announced at a later date. The event will also feature a number of enhanced festival villages at Buttermilk Mountain, offering spectators a unique and wide-ranging interactive experience to complement the X Games sports.
ESPN and ABC will televise a combined 16 hours of live X Games Aspen 2015 competition. Forthcoming details on the X Games athletes, competition schedule, music and more will be available on www.xgames.com for fans or on www.espnmediazone.com for members of the media. Follow the X Games on Twitter at http://twitter.com/xgames.