Aspen’s Alex Ferreira places third at X Games | SummitDaily.com

Aspen’s Alex Ferreira places third at X Games

Alex Ferreira collected a Winter X Games medal that will stay right at home in Aspen. The Aspen native superpipe skier — who fell just short of a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team — was all the way back in sixth place in the men's ski superpipe finals after the first two rounds Friday night. But the 19-year-old skier put together a dazzling final run at Buttermilk that yielded Winter X bronze. Defending X Games gold medalist and U.S. Olympian David Wise, of Reno, Nev., won the 2014 gold in ski superpipe with a high score of 92.00. French skier Kevin Rolland was next at 88.66. Ferreira's final-run 85.33 score produced Aspen's first hometown medal in the Winter X Games this year. "I fell on my first run. I was super-stressed," Ferreira said. "Then, I fell on the second run, and I thought, 'Oh my God.'" After usually scoring his best on his first run, Ferreira faced a one-run challenge Friday night. "I decided I was just going to ski, and that's what I did," Ferreira said with a brilliant smile. He said the crowd of his hometown supporters really helped him win a Winter X Games medal. Ferreira carried the mantle for Aspen after fellow Aspenite Torin Yater-Wallace opted out of the finals to continue to recover from a serious injury suffered earlier in the season and prepare for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. Coming off the broken ribs suffered in training last month, Yater-Wallace was the final qualifier for the finals from the early eliminations Wednesday night. "After only a week of being back on snow, I decided to give my body a break in order to be ready for Sochi," said 18-year-old Yater-Wallace, who started a scholarship in his name last year at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, where he got his competitive start. "I am disappointed I won't be competing (in the X Games superpipe final). But this is what my body needs in preparation for Sochi," said Yater-Wallace, who finished second to David Wise in the 2013 Winter X Games. "I will be returning to the X Games next year with a plan to win a medal," said Yater-Wallace, a crowd favorite and acknowledged teen heartthrob. "Alex winning a medal is like a dream come true," Yater-Wallace said of his fellow Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club product. "I couldn't be happier for him." Aspen will have a shot at another Winter X medal when Gretchen Bleiler competes in the women's snowboard superpipe – her final event ever in the Winter X Games. She will retire from competition at the end of the season. dstrode@aspentimes.com

Aspen’s Alex Ferreira wins X Games bronze in ski superpipe

The end. Aspen freeskier Alex Ferreira put the exclamation point on Winter X Games 2015 on Sunday afternoon when he thrilled the crowd at Buttermilk with a bronze-medal performance in the Men's Ski Superpipe. The 20-year-old freeskier, who started his halfpipe skiing in the same Buttermilk pipe, won X Games bronze for the second year in a row. He's the only Aspen athlete to win an X Games medal the past two years. When the finals started Sunday afternoon, the halfpipe was half in the sun and half in the shade as temperatures soared to the mid-40s. The wet, damp snow on the sunny side slowed the speeds for the skiers in the halfpipe. But when the final run for the eight competitors started, the halfpipe was fully drenched in chilling shade. Consequently the three highest scores of the day — the three medal scores — all came on the final run as speeds increased exponentially. Simon d'Artois won the last gold medal of the 2015 Winter X Games on his final run, giving Canada its first Men's Ski Superpipe gold in history. The silver medal went to Kevin Rolland, of France, also for the second year in a row. Ferreira was the first to post a huge score in the final round, right after defending champion and Olympic gold medalist David Wise recorded an 89.00 to vault into the lead. Ferreira, cheered by his hometown fans, blasted a 91.66 to temporarily take over the lead. D'Artois pushed him back when he posted his winning 93.99 score right after Ferreira's run. Rolland followed immediately with a 92.33 for silver, giving bronze to the Aspen skier. "This is so awesome," Ferreira said after the emotional roller-coaster of Sunday's finals. He added that the shady conditions for the final run boosted the performances for the skiers. "It was slow at the beginning," said Ferreira, the son of Mercelo Ferreira and Colleen Delia. "It got significantly faster (for the final run)." Ferreria, who first started skiing at age 3, said the Buttermilk halfpipe is a special place for him. It's where he first skied in the halfpipe. Now, it's yielded two Winter X bronze medals. "The first memory I have of being in the halfpipe at Buttermilk was with my best friend Torin Yater-Wallace, and we were like 8 years old," Ferreira said with a hearty laugh. "Torin had skied pipe a lot before that. He said I could do like a cork 900. He convinced me, and I landed the first one I tried." Ferreira said that he and Torin hopped into the Buttermilk halfpipe. "It was a sunny day. Just him and me. And his mom was there taking pictures," Ferreira said. "There was this feeling … like I felt so good after landing that first one," Ferreira said. "And we just kept skiing." Yater-Wallace, the Olympian who would have been in the competition had he not suffered a concussion in a hard practice fall earlier in the week, came out Sunday to watch the superpipe finals. "It's nice having him here with me," Ferreira said. "I'd like to say 'thank you' to the town of Aspen and the X Games for putting on a great event for us." SNOWMOBILE SNOCROSS Veteran Tucker Hibbert added to his legacy with yet another gold medal in Snowmobile Snocross at the Winter X Games. The 30-year-old Hibbert, who won his eighth national championship last season, won his eighth consecutive gold medal at Winter X on Sunday afternoon. Hibbert, from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, beat a star-studded field that included silver medalist Kody Kamm and bronze medalist Ross Martin. Kamm is a 20-year-old snowmobiler from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Martin is from Burlington, Wisconsin. Hibbert collected his 13th Winter X Games medal Sunday, including his ninth gold. Garrett Goodwin won the gold in Adaptive Snocross. Doug Henry won bronze. Jim Wazny picked up the bronze.

X out: Injury sidelines Yater-Wallace

The Winter X Games came to a premature end for Aspen freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace. The U.S. Olympian and three-time X Games medalist suffered a concussion in a practice session crash earlier this week in the halfpipe. When doctors did not clear him to compete Friday night, Yater-Wallace was forced to miss the Men's Ski Slopestyle qualifying round at Buttermilk. "It's disappointing, but it's part of our sport," Yater-Wallace said in an interview with The Aspen Times. "There's the flat deck and the flat bottom, and neither one are good to land on. For me, I didn't have quite enough pop, landed on the deck on my back and bounced onto my head." Yater-Wallace said the concussion kept him out of practice the past two days. "The symptoms were pretty bad today, and I wasn't cleared to ski," the 19-year-old Aspenite said. "But mishaps like that happen." Still, the skier with two silvers and one X Games bronze in the halfpipe (before age 20) ventured out Friday night to watch the qualifying rounds in his event and cheer on his pals. "It's a show by all my fellow skiers and friends," said Yater-Wallace, who watched as fellow Olympian Gus Kenworthy, of Telluride, paced the elimination rounds with a high score of 89.33, which was recorded on his first pass. Lyman Currier, of Boulder, who often trains with Yater-Wallace, was second in qualifying Friday. He posted an 88.00 on his final run. Kevin Rolland of France, the silver medalist last year, was the No. 3 qualifier for the final field of eight skiers. Simon d'Artois, a 22-year-old Canadian, was fourth. Aspen's Alex Ferreira, who soared to a bronze-medal finish in the 2014 Winter X Games, qualified fifth, using a dynamic second run (84.00) to join the field for Sunday afternoon's final medal event of the 2015 Winter X Games. Olympic champion and two-time Winter X Games gold medalist Davis Wise, from Reno, Nevada, qualified sixth. The final eight also will include Canadians Mike Riddle, 28, and Noah Bowman, 22. The preliminary field Friday included legend Simon Dumont, the 10-time Winter X medalist from Maine who came out of retirement for one final X Games appearance in Aspen. "This is a good spot to end it," Dumont said. He did not qualify for the finals. dstrode@aspentimes

Yater-Wallace qualifies second for superpipe final

Basalt’s Torin Yater-Wallace said last week he wasn’t near where his ability would typically be after undergoing shoulder surgery in September. He looked just fine in his first competition back Thursday morning on Buttermilk. Yater-Wallace scored a 90 in his first run in the skiing superpipe event, and his score only eclipsed by the defending gold medalist, David Wise of Reno, Nevada in the final run of the day. Aspen’s Alex Ferreira – a former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard club athlete – failed to qualify for tonight’s final after falling on both runs. But it was Yater-Wallace who proved to be undaunted after training for just a little more than five weeks, and not competing in a single event since last season. He opened his first run with a right side double cork 1260, then landed every trick afterward to claim the top spot from France’s Kevin Rolland, who put up an 88 before Yater-Wallace took to the pipe. Ferreira, who drew loud cheers from friends and family at the bottom of the pipe, fell on his third jump after landing a left side 1080 and a switch right side 900. In his second run, he soared more than 18 feet out of the pipe to land a left side 1080. Ferreira then landed a 720, a double cork 1260, and then on his final jump, he he couldn’t land a right side 900. He wound up 13th in his first X Games appearance with a score of 37. In Yater-Wallace’s second run, with the finals spot already locked up, he dialed the difficulty down a notch, and scored an 87. Wise improved on his 87 in his first run with a 92 in the second to head into the final as the No. 1 qualifier. Yater-Wallace looks to win his third medal in as many opportunities. Last year, he grabbed the bronze medal, and in 2011, as a 15 year-old, he took silver. Kevin Rolland, the 2010 and 2011 gold medalist, qualified second with a first run score of 88. Tanner Hall, making a comeback to the games since having knee surgery in 2009 and becoming addicted to painkillers, failed to qualify with two uninspiring runs that produced scores of 66.33 and 69.33. Last year’s silver medalist, Noah Bowman, was held out of the finals by finishing ninth with a second round score of 70.66. Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck headed to finals after placing sixth in qualifiers.

Aspen’s Torin Yater-Wallace soars to top in rivalry

The halfpipe rivalry is alive and well, thank you. Aspen freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace edged Olympic champion David Wise in a Dew Tour showdown at Breckenridge last weekend — heralding the return of the friendly rivalry between two of America's top halfpipe skiers. "It feels amazing," Yater-Wallace said after this historic duel when he and Wise traded the best halfpipe runs of their young careers. "Last year, the Olympic year, I got hurt at this event, and the whole season didn't work out so hot for me. So, coming back and getting on the podium is a great feeling." With the sun setting at the 10th annual Dew Tour in Breckenridge, the halfpipe finals were set up by a strong showing from Aspen's Alex Ferreira, himself a Winter X Games medalist in Aspen last winter. Ferreira finished fifth in the Dew Tour finals behind winner Yater-Wallace, runner-up Wise, third-place Kevin Rolland and fourth-place Gus Kenworthy, yet another Olympic medalist. In the finals, Yater-Wallace took the lead over Wise with a huge double cork 1260 on the first hit in the Breckenridge halfpipe. He then landed what observers called the biggest double flat spin alley-oop ever — ever. He scored a 92.25 to take the lead. Wise, who won the Sprint U.S Grand Prix at Copper Mountain a week earlier, then hit the pipe for "the best run of my life." He linked consecutive 1260 doubles and took the lead over Yater-Wallace with a 94.75. Then Yater-Wallace offered an even bigger frontside 1260 on the second run and also linked back-to-back alley-oop double corks that would take the lead and the win — 95.25. The two swapped positions from the previous weekend when Wise won and Yater-Wallace finished second at Copper Mountain. "I've never done too well here, so this is awesome," Yater-Wallace said. "It just felt like any other run, but I heard others saying I was going really big. The pipe was really fast, so that's what happens." He said he had to clean up the final part of his first run after he landed flat. "I had to polish that up, land higher up on the wall and bring all the speed I could to the last hit to get the grab, better amplitude and the grab — it got me the few extra points I needed, I guess," Yater-Wallace said. "I just knew it was going to be a hot contest because last week at the Grand Prix was so intense," Wise said of the duel. "Torin came out first run and landed the biggest double alley-oop flat spin I've ever seen, so I was like, 'All right, that's how you're gonna set the bar,' and then I landed probably the best run of my life, first run. Got every grab, super smooth, went huge and couldn't be more happy with that run." But, he said, Yater-Wallace had one more shot. "And Torin throws another heater run and moves into first. I'm stoked on the Wallace versus Wise rivalry." Both are expected to extend the friendly rivalry in competition at the Winter X Games in Aspen on Jan. 22-25. Last year, Yater-Wallace was unable to complete the Winter X Games competition because of his earlier injuries. But he came back to qualify for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, where he joined the likes of Wise and Kenworthy as U.S. Olympic teammates. The dramatic duel in the Breckenridge halfpipe will be featured on NBC television in a taped program Dec. 28, from 2-3 p.m. mountain time. In other weekend events at the Dew Tour, Breckenridge's Keri Herman won her first Dew Title in women's slopestyle. "I feel absolutely amazing to win the Dew Tour at my home mountain, with all my family and all my friends here," she said. Emma Dalstrom was second and Julia Krass, a freeskiing rookie, finished third. Favorite Maggie Voisink fell in the first run and bypassed the second.

Marie Martinod, Aaron Blunck win ski pipe titles under X Games lights

ASPEN — Four-time X Games champ Maddie Bowman was featured in a video ahead of the women's skier superpipe event Friday night, moments before she began an effort to win her fifth gold in the event. "One of the goals I have in my career is to get more women involved in skiing, and also to help us push our skiing," she said, her voice booming out over the X Games crowd. She may have helped facilitate that Friday night, but not in the way the way she was hoping. Marie Martinod, a 32-year old French freestyle skier, laid down a high-flying, fast-spinning first run to score an 89.33. That held on to win, and for the first time since 2012, someone other than Bowman walked away with X Games gold in the women's skier superpipe. Japan's Ayana Onozuka was second at 87.00, and Bowman ended up third at 86.00. Bowman, 23 years old and from South Lake Tahoe, California, has dominated the sport since she burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old in 2012. She won silver that year, but has been golden since, winning all four X Games and the 2014 Winter Olympics. Neither Martinod nor Onozuka have ever been far behind, however. Both joined Bowman on the podium at the Olympics and both have multiple other X Games podiums. Onozuka's second-place showing was her third in as many years. She was happy after the competition to have landed her first-hit 900 in both her runs. The second she landed high enough to allow for a strong run. Though she'd have rather it been her on top, Onozuka didn't mind seeing the shakeup in front of her. Asked if she thought someone besides Bowman winning was good for the sport, she first recognized Bowman's talent, then agreed, through a translator, with a simple, "Yes." For Martinod, the difference was both the style and the amplitude she managed on her first run. She soared through back-to-back 540s early in the run, went inverted with back-to-back flairs in the middle of the run, then capped it with her biggest trick of all, a soaring 900. She knew it was special as soon as she landed, shooting her arms out in celebration as she skidded to a stop while the Buttermilk crowd roared. Bowman staged a respectable attempt to answer, skiing a more technical run built around back-to-back 900s in the middle. She landed both runs, but couldn't match Martinod. The difference was most obvious on that last hit. Bowman struggled to rise out of the pipe. Martinod soared out of it. Bowman waited for her score at the bottom after her final run, grinning and hanging on to her skis. That smile wavered and she dropped her skis when the announcement came, but she was smiling again moments later as she offered Martinod a hug. It was the end of a streak, but maybe a step for the sport. Blunck takes men's title Last week, Crested Butte's Aaron Blunck called Aspen his home away from home. Best friends with local stars Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira, he's spent a lot of time in the area. Like his friends, Blunck is an X Games Aspen veteran competing in the ski superpipe. Unlike his friends, he's never found success in competition. In fact, he had never executed a complete run before Friday's finals at Buttermilk. "I've dreamed of this as a little kid and I cannot be more stoked," the 20-year-old Blunck said. "To win here is unbelievable. I'm so stoked right now. I cannot actually believe it. It's always been a dream to me, but to actually do it is unbelievable." In a fast pipe that caused everyone trouble, Blunck put together a spectacular second run of 84.66 to win X Games gold, an absolute Cinderella in a competition that included three-time gold medalists Kevin Rolland and David Wise. Blunck's previous best finish in Aspen had been seventh place. "It was icy and it was really fast. With that, everybody was going so big, which makes them get a little bit closer to the deck," Blunck said. "Second run, I knew what I had to do and I jumped in, and right before I dropped in I kind of got in the zone and I was just feeling so good." Blunck wasn't a factor after the first run. A 71.00 from Canada's Noah Bowman was the best anyone could muster in the icy superpipe, France's Benoit Valentin's 58.00 being second best and Yater-Wallace's 36.66 a surprising third. But, midway through the second and final round, New Zealand's Miguel Porteous laid down what was then the best run of the night, his 81.00 vaulting him into first place. Only a run later, Blunck surpassed him with his 84.66. "I can't believe it. I'm still shaking," the 17-year-old Porteous said. "I'm unbelievably humbled to come back and to come away with the second, I can't even fathom it. I'm so stoked." It was Porteous' first career X Games podium. Bowman took bronze. Yater-Wallace, who had two promising runs that each ended with late crashes, finished sixth. Ferreira was a late scratch from the competition. "Coming into the last few X Games I felt a lot of stress," Blunck said. "I'm also just skiing and realizing it's all just for fun. It's not just about the competition or the money anymore. I ski because I love it, and that's what has really changed for me." Rolland, last year's gold medalist, took eighth.

Inside look at the $1.7 billion deal that weds Aspen, Steamboat, Winter Park and Canadian Mountain heliskiing operation

More than 170 potential bidders lined up to buy Intrawest's stable of ski areas — revealing a growing appetite for destination resorts. Some were resort operators, but most of the suitors were financial firms and billionaires. It was a combination that won — a partnership that married a veteran operator with a financial player that pulled together the biggest deal in ski resort history. The operator, Aspen Skiing Co., really only wanted Winter Park, Steamboat and Intrawest's Canadian Mountain Holidays helicopter skiing operation. The Roaring Fork Valley resort owner offered as much as $1.129 billion for the three properties. The company also offered as much as $878 million in cash for just Winter Park and Steamboat. But Intrawest wanted to sell the entire company — six resorts in Canada, Colorado, Vermont and West Virginia, 1,113 acres of land, the 12-lodge CMH and a real estate business — in a single transaction. Read the full story on The Denver Post website.

Germany upsets Portugal 3-2

BASEL, Switzerland ” Almost from the outset, it was Germany, not Portugal, that showed flair. It was the Germans, a group runner-up, who dominated the Portuguese, a group winner. Bastian Schweinsteiger, coming off a suspension, scored one goal and set up two more Thursday night, leading Germany over Portugal 3-2 and into the European Championship semifinals. It was the first time Germany moved into the final four since it won Euros in 1996, and the first time Portugal failed to make the semifinals in the last three major international tournaments. Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose also scored for Germany off free kicks by Schweinsteiger. Nuno Gomes and Helder Postiga had goals for Portugal. “Up to now, we lacked a bit of creativity. That is why we changed today and that was the key,” Ballack said. “Now, you saw what this team has when it can play freely.” In the battle between Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Chelsea’s Ballack, the German came out on top. He delivered the deciding blow when heading in the third goal in the 61st minute, shoving away Paulo Ferreira and heading past an out-of-position goalkeeper Ricardo. “I did my best,” Ronaldo said, although it was hardly the form he showed in the Premier League and Champions League. The Germans started the upset with a move in the best Portuguese tradition. Podolski set up a couple of short passing combinations and then sped down left wing like Ronaldo would do. In the center, Schweinsteiger beat Ferreira, and given the perfect low cross, right-footed it past Ricardo from close range. “There is always something left. Everything is possible in football,” Schweinsteiger said. “We can battle.” The Portuguese were surprised at such light-footed creativity from the Germans and before they knew it, they were down 2-0. Schweinsteiger swung in a free kick from near midfield. Ronaldo remained flat-footed while Klose sped by him and powerfully knocked the ball past Ricardo in the 26th. The strong performance from Schweinsteiger was a perfect comeback for the midfielder after he was sent off for shoving an opponent in Germany’s 2-1 loss to Croatia that relegated the Germans to runner-up in Group B. No matter ” they still handled Portugal, which won Group A, and next will play the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal match between Turkey and Croatia. Germany won even though coach Joachim Loew was banned from the game by UEFA after getting ejected during the final group game, a 1-0 win over Austria. His assistant, Hansi Flick, worked the game in his place. “We played for the coach,” Schweinsteiger said.

Shaun White in running for double-gold at X Games

For his last run of the night, Shaun White didn’t attempt a trick. Instead the Carlsbad, Calif., product waved to the crowd, and coasted down the superpipe, content with his second place finish. He led after the first round of the snowboard superpipe event with an 88, and then Swiss competitor, Iouri Podladtchikov surpassed White by 0.33. No matter, White will still compete for two gold medals this weekend. White also qualified for the snowboard slopestyle final Thursday afternoon, but in a much different fashion than the superpipe. White was fifth after the first round with a 67.33. His run was clean, highlighted by a switch backside 1080 and a half cab front side 1080. Defending gold medalist Mark McMorris, however, looked like he was a step above White. McMorris calmly posted an 88.66 – the highest mark of the day. Peetu Piiroinen of Finland, last year’s bronze medalist, finished second with an 81.33, while White, 26, finished seventh after crashing during his second run on the third jump of the slopestyle course, attempting a cab 1260. Last year’s silver medalist, Sage Kotsenburg, of Park City, Utah, failed to qualify after falling on both of his runs and finishing 13. White hasn’t medaled in the slopestyle since 2009, and had to drop out of the competition last year because of a sprained ankle. He will have to improve his tricks to keep pace with McMorris, who is seven years younger than White (19). The slopestyle final is Saturday at noon. White will compete for his sixth straight gold medal in the superpipe Sunday at 7:45 p.m. Basalt’s Torin Yater-Wallace said last week he wasn’t near where his ability would typically be after undergoing shoulder surgery in September. He looked just fine in his first competition back Thursday morning on Buttermilk. Yater-Wallace scored a 90 in his first run in the skiing superpipe event, and his score only eclipsed by the defending gold medalist, David Wise of Reno, Nevada in the final run of the day. Aspen’s Alex Ferreira – a former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard club athlete – failed to qualify for tonight’s final after falling on both runs. He wound up 13th in his first X Games appearance with a score of 37. It was Yater-Wallace who proved to be undaunted after training for just a little more than five weeks, and not competing in a single event since last season. He opened his first run with a right side double cork 1260, then landed every trick afterward to claim the top spot from France’s Kevin Rolland, who put up an 88 before Yater-Wallace took to the pipe. In Yater-Wallace’s second run, with the finals spot already locked up, he dialed the difficulty down a notch, and scored an 87. Wise improved on his 87 in his first run with a 92 in the second to head into the final as the No. 1 qualifier. Yater-Wallace looks to win his third medal in as many opportunities. Last year, he grabbed the bronze medal, and in 2011, as a 15 year-old, he took silver. Kevin Rolland, the 2010 and 2011 gold medalist, qualified second with a first run score of 88. Tanner Hall, making a comeback to the games since having knee surgery in 2009 and becoming addicted to painkillers, failed to qualify with two uninspiring runs that produced scores of 66.33 and 69.33. Last year’s silver medalist, Noah Bowman, was held out of the finals by finishing ninth with a second round score of 70.66. Due to deadlines, look for results from Friday night’s final in Sunday’s Summit Daily News. Gretchen Bleiler, a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist, decided Wednesday evening to drop out of today’s snowboard superpipe competition. The Snowmass Village resident first announced her decision on Twitter midday Thursday and spoke Thursday night on ESPN about her decision. Bleiler was due to compete despite shattering her eye socket during a trampoline session in June in Park City, Utah. It was a long journey back to being able to compete as the Snowmass Village resident struggled with double vision and vertigo resulting from surgery. “Obviously a really tough decision for me,” Bleiler told X Games host Ramona Bruland. “I love X Games, this is my hometown. I would love to just go out there and give everyone a good show. “My vision is better, but I just need a little bit more time on snow. To compete at the X Games, this is the biggest stage. This is the best riding. You have the world’s best athletes coming together, and you have to be in it 100 percent.” She told The Associated Press last week she wasn’t planning any outlandish tricks and reserves the right to drop out at the last minute. “From any traumatic injury, you’re going to experience a lack of confidence,” Bleiler told the AP. “There’s a whole process you have to go through to break free of that.”

Winter X Games to remain in Aspen through 2007

ASPEN – ESPN and the Aspen Skiing Co. have reached an agreement that will keep the Winter X Games in Aspen through 2007. Ron Semiao, senior vice president for ESPN Original Entertainment, and David Perry, Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president, made the announcement official on Tuesday in Denver. The 2004 Winter X Games in Aspen begins Friday and continues through Tuesday. Last spring, Skico and ESPN reached a deal that returned the games to Aspen for an unprecedented third straight year. Capturing three additional seasons would be a major coup for the Skico, solidifying the resort’s growing reputation as an international center of extreme skiing and snowboarding. The list of attendees at the announcement included David Perry, Skico senior vice president of marketing; Jack Weinert, executive director of the ESPN X Games; Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud; and Rob Perlman, president of Colorado Ski Country. The press conference was hosted by Aspen’s Chris Davenport. The Aspen Times broke the story Tuesday, after Skico CEO Pat O’Donnell and ESPN media director Melissa Gullotti initially declined comment. “If you don’t have anything from an official source, it’s just speculation,” Gullotti said. O’Donnell broke out laughing when reached Monday night in his office. He said Perry would “have him by the gonads” if he said anything other than “I know nothing.” O’Donnell did confirm that Skico and ESPN have been in negotiations to continue staging the games at Buttermilk. “We’ve been talking for a long period of time, trying to negotiate a long-term deal,” he said. Part of those negotiations no doubt dealt with terms offered by other resorts, including Mammoth in California and Whistler in British Columbia, that have expressed a strong interest in hosting the games. When they announced last spring that the Winter X Games would be staged at Buttermilk for a third year, Skico officials said they made several concessions beyond those contained in the original two-year deal that first brought the games to Aspen in 2002. ESPN and Skico officials have been quoted in past years saying that Buttermilk is an ideal venue for hosting the spectator-oriented competition, allowing all the events to be staged in close proximity to one another and the crowds. The inaugural Winter X Games was held in 1997 at the Snow Summit Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Calif. Over the next four seasons, the games were held for two years each in Crested Butte and Mount Snow, Vt. This year’s event, which begins Friday, will mark the first time a location has held the X Games for three-straight years. To date, X Games events had primarily changed sites every two years. As part of the new agreement, the Winter X Games will remain in Aspen/Snowmass for a total of six consecutive years (2002-2007). “This monumental commitment illustrates our belief that Aspen is an ideal home for the Winter X Games,” Semiao said. “We applaud Aspen Skiing Co., the city of Aspen and the entire Colorado snowsports community for sharing our vision and supporting this long-term arrangement.” Last January, Winter X Games VII drew more than 48,000 spectators, 12,000 more than in 2002. – Allyn Harvey, Pitkin County correspondent, contributed to this report