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Local fans love the backyard fun at X Games in Aspen

Baron Zahuranec
baron@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Baron Zahuranec/Post IndependentFans pile into the corral area below the Skier Slopestyle course at the Winter X Games 13. Spectators squeezed and shimmied into every available viewing spot.
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ASPEN, Colorado ” It sure is nice having the world’s best winter athletes in your backyard, relatively speaking. Shaun White or Simon Dumont might not be actually camping underneath the swingset and next to your barbecue grill, but they are slope-side for four days on Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen/Snowmass.

For the local fans, they couldn’t ask for a better treat. This area is littered with ski resorts, big and small. It’s hard to find a family that doesn’t do some sort of winter activity.

When an event as big as the Winter X Games comes to town, as it has for the last 12 years, it’s pretty hard to pass up when it’s right there.



“I’ve been here for the past two days,” 23-year-old Aspen resident Amy Westin said. “Almost from when practices started to when everything’s finished. It’s nice to be from Aspen here. I don’t have to worry about any of the travel. I walked here today.”

While Westin doesn’t have to travel far to get her winter athlete fix, 32-year-old Greg Stanford and a dozen of his friends made the long haul south from Missoula, Mont. He had no idea how long the trip took. They actually left the beginning of January and have been backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and camping “every night,” he said.



“We’re skiing all over the place,” Stanford added. “I’m not sure how much of this trip was for the X Games and how much was to just take a vacation and roll around in the snow.”

One thing that had some fans feeling down was the un-winter like drizzle in the afternoons. One would think that the end of January in the mountains of Colorado would be all snow all the time. But not for this X Games. Luckily, it never really rained. Once the day wore on, the temperatures dropped and then the snow started to fall. Just like it should in January.

“The rain was a pain but once it cooled down in the evenings everything was all right then,” Stanford said. “I want to be buried in snow, not swept away by a flood.”

While there never was a flood of water, there sure was a flood of people. Sure, you could find a spot to stand, as long as you didn’t mind being 150 feet from the best viewing areas. From that far away the big screens came in real handy.

Watching at home on TV is one thing, and seeing the screens slope-side is even better, but when there’s only a rope separating the competitors and the fans, that’s the place to be. Up front and personal.

Josh Lindstrom, a 29-year-old from Grand Junction, was there on Sunday to get a firsthand glimpse of the Mono Skier X athletes. These disabled athletes sit on a specially made single ski, jetting down the mountain over tabletop jumps, banked turns, rollers and gaps.

“I’ve seen people on the slopes on those things and they’re going slow and not going all crazy like they do here,” Lindstrom said. “Having both legs on one ski, I can’t even imagine doing that.”

Most of the crowd consisted of high schoolers and younger kids, but there were more than enough parents there, too. Who says they shouldn’t like extreme snow sports?

Dawn and Fred Camponelli of Colorado Springs are in their mid-40s and just getting into skiing themselves. They thought this would be a good weekend to ski at Snowmass and catch some high flying tricks.

“We climb, so we know a little bit about extreme sports, even though we’re older,” Fred said. “Seeing 20-year-olds do these things, especially some of the snowmobile flips, it really makes you wish you had young legs back.”

“I’m surprised to have seen as many parents as we have,” Dawn said. “I guess they’re here with their kids. That’s great that a whole family can go to something like this. Skiing is such a huge part of people’s lives out here. It’s easy for a whole family to love being on the mountain.”


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