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Monday, January 27,2014

Sochi takes a bite out of Aspen X Games

Several prominent names skip competition for Olympic training

By Mallane Dressel

Training schedules for the rapidly approaching Winter Olympic Games in Sochi,Russia kept several prominent Winter X Games stars away from the competition this past weekend in Aspen. Shaun White for one, wasn't there to defend his six straight wins in the snowboarding half pipe competition. 

But that wasn't all bad. It gave Danny Davis the chance to win his first gold in the half pipe category after appearing in the same six previous X games.

Other competitors felt a need to compete out of loyalty.

Colorado’s own Bobby Brown, an X Games and Olympic slopestyle skier, said to ESPN in an interview, “X Games has been the Olympics of our sport to this point. That’s what our sport’s been based around and I want to keep it that way a little bit.”

In 1997, ESPN expanded their summer games exploits to include a Winter X Games, and helped legitimize sports, such as snowboarding, which were not yet included in the Olympics at that time. The Winter X Games now indicates who has the ability to go to the Olympics, considering that most of the line-up for the X Games included Olympic bound athletes.

Nate Holland and Lindsey Jacobellis now show an elevated level of promise for the Olympics after their wins in the Snowboarding X divisions at the X Games. Holland looks to fill the shoes of Seth Wescott, a snowboard cross racer, who has won the gold for the U.S. ever since the sports introduction to the Turin games in 2006.

Stars of the Winter X Games, like Holland, performed while keeping Sochi in their sights. “We go to Russia here pretty soon and I'm confident now that I am where I should be. And I'm fired up,” Holland said.

Other athletes also stated how the competitions provided an excellent training ground in order to prepare and set goals for Sochi. Snowboard slopestyle athletes, Mark McMorris and Jamie Anderson, look to redeem themselves at the Olympic games using their losses at the X Games to help them prepare.

[Editor's note: this story originally reported that the X Games took place in Vail, and has been corrected to show that they took place in Aspen. Boulder Weekly regrets the error.]

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XGames are in Aspen, not Vail