Skip X Games? For most athletes, not a chance | SummitDaily.com

Skip X Games? For most athletes, not a chance

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times

Athletes invited to the Aspen X Games opening press conference held at Buttermilk Mountain on Wednesday afternoon.

It's a fair question during an Olympic season and one the athletes get quite a bit: Are you going to compete in X Games?

While there have been instances where an athlete will skip the annual event in Aspen to focus on the Olympics — halfpipe snowboarder Shaun White opted out of the 2014 Winter X Games to train for the Sochi Games — the resounding answer from many of the athletes during Wednesday's introductory news conference was "absolutely."

"I just think it's a really good gauge of what you are going to see at the Olympics," Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris said. "There is really no point in not doing this event. You want to sharpen your competitive skills."

The 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea officially gets underway Feb. 9, making this week's Winter X Games the final significant event ahead of the big show. While skipping the ESPN showcase in Aspen crossed many minds, it seems nobody followed through on it.

The notable absences, such as Estonian skier Kelly Sildaru and Tahoe snowboarder Danny Davis, are injury-related. The who's who of the sports are here and ready to compete, including White.

"This is where our sport was born and came into its own. It's really special for us," said Tahoe skier Maddie Bowman, who won Thursday night's women's ski halfpipe final. "This is a pretty unique spot where you really do get to show the best of the best. The riding is always at an insane level and the energy is always so amazing."

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American halfpipe skier David Wise, the reigning Olympic gold medalist who won Thursday night's men's ski halfpipe final, believes most people would skip X Games out of fear of getting hurt, a valid reason considering the Winter Olympics only come around every four years.

However, that's never been his style.

"Taking the momentum from X Games into the Olympics has always been my strategy," Wise said. "Yeah, we are going into the Olympics very soon. We are within a month from finals of my event, and it would be maybe in some people's minds to skip X Games, stay healthy. But at the same time you can't live your life in fear of injury. We are at the highest level of our sport. We are at the cutting edge. We have to go in expecting to land runs."