The Winter X-Games were held in Aspen, Colo. Jan. 28-31 for the 15th year. For four days, over 200 athletes from all over the world competed for gold on Buttermilk Mountain.
The X-Games have become increasingly popular over the years, gaining a massive following and seeming to produce more extreme sports athletes among youth in the United States. Athletes are decked out with sponsors, and the competition receives special focus from certain corporations such as Red Bull. Many notable artists performed in Aspen during the games, including deadmau5 and Twenty One Pilots.
There was an absence at this year’s games. Snowboarder Shaun White has competed in every Winter X-Games since 2000, except for 2014 when he decided to stay home in order to train for the Olympics. When questioned about his absence, ESPN, who owns the Winter X-Games, stated that White was simply not invited. White is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a 15-time X-Games gold medalist.
But possibly the biggest story this year would be the success of a 13-year old girl from Estonia in her X-Games debut. Kelly Sildaru made history by taking the gold medal in the Women’s Ski Slopestyle event. Some have drawn comparisons between Sildaru and White, who was also 13 when he made his X-Games debut. White, however, finished in ninth place in his first event. Sildaru also won the Women’s Freeski Slopestyle event at the Dew Tour in November. She is the youngest athlete ever to take the gold medal in an X-Games competition.
Another famous snowboarder Mark McMorris, won his sixth Winter X-Games gold medal in the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle. He was also awarded the silver medal in the Snowboarding Big Air event. Bobby Brown finished second in the Ski Big Air event, and Ben Ferguson took silver in the Snowboarding SuperPipe event, one of the fan favorites.
Some big names were absent while others were established as the Winter X-Games came to a close.