Friday, January 2, 2004
Updated: January 12, 4:39 PM ET
Winter X Goes Live
By Alyssa Roenigk
For the first time in eight years, the X Games will be broadcast live on ESPN and ABC. Apparently, the programmers at ESPN finally realized mainstream sports like basketball and football may deliver on big-name celebs and adult-soap-opera-like drama, but they've got nothing on hyper-competitive teenagers duking it out in an 18-foot SuperPipe while braving the near-zero temperatures of Aspen after sundown. We're talkin' more drama than a high school prom.
What a live broadcast means for the athletes ...
The 2002 Winter Olympics catapulted snowboarders Kelly Clark and Ross Powers to superhero status faster than they could pull those shiny gold medals from around their necks. So a standout performance at the Winter X Games, the closest thing to the Winter Olympics this year, could mean more sponsors, more mag time and more money for these athletes.
It also means more screen time for riders who may normally be edited out. "There's lots of stuff that goes on that's exciting and funny, but gets edited," says Caleb Wyatt, who will compete in Moto X Best Trick. "I know I've done some cool stuff that should be on TV and it didn't make it. I think it's awesome."
A large portion of this typically daytime event will take place under artificial lights and well after sundown. That means freezing temperatures, bulkier layers and rowdier crowds. "Night contests mean tons of people who are slightly intoxicated," says Hannah Teter, who will compete in women's SuperPipe and Slopestyle in Aspen. "That means they yell louder, the riders get more amped and s**t goes off. I love night contests."
What it means for you, the viewer ...
Instant Gratification. "Sweet! Some 13-year-old kid upset Shaun White in the SuperPipe at the 2004 X Games. Too bad I read about it four days before I saw the broadcast." Say goodbye to this scenario. This year, you'll be the first to know when all the craziness goes down. The medal ceremonies will also air live, and the final two will be part of the 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter broadcast. Check out our TV schedule for dates, times and network.
But less runs. The live TV coverage will jump between up to three finals taking place simultaneously. That means viewers will see only a fraction of the competition. (Think Olympics.) If your favorite rider's not favored to place, you may not see his or her run. But not to worry. We will be streaming live from every venue at the X Games all day, every day via X Games Raw. The live TV coverage will not include prelims or practice runs, so tune in to EXPN.com for all pre-finals coverage.
If women's Snowboard Slopestyle, UltraCross or HillCross are your sports of choice, check out our event schedule for finals times, and watch them live on X Games Raw. These three events will not be broadcast live, but highlights from the finals will be shown as part of the evening TV broadcast on the same day the event takes place.
Live footage of the non-medal sports will be available only on EXPN.com. If you're a fan of Junior SnoCross (And let's face it, who isn't?), Freestyle SnoCross (Think Freestyle Motocross on much bigger bikes.) or Women's Ski SuperPipe (an event at the XGGC), the TV broadcast will only show highlights from these demo events.
SportsCenter will broadcast live from the X Games. The famed desk will be set up at the base of Buttermilk mountain and long-time host Linda Cohn will take her seat behind it Monday and Tuesday nights. She'll present highlights and introduce the final competitors in two events during the 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter broadcast. "Our viewers love and appreciate athletes pulling off feats they can only dream about," Cohn says. "I can't wait to be their tour guide for Winter X at Aspen."
The athletes are excited to bring the excitement of the X Games to a broader audience. "The X Games is a time where some amazing stuff is thrown down, and SportsCenter will be the perfect place to show it to everyone who wasn't there," says Ross Powers, a former WXG gold medallist in the SuperPipe. But broadcaster beware: "I'm psyched SportsCenter is going to be hanging in Aspen," Ross says. "But I'd like to see Linda get on a snowboard and do some riding."
Sal Masakela will once again host the event, and serve as a reporter at certain venues. Sal hosted the BMX Vert finals at X Games IX in Los Angeles, the first X Games event broadcast live, in prime time. And with all his recent NBA face time, this assignment should be no sweat for Sal.