A contingent of X Games athletes and fans — including local monoski racer Sam Ferguson — are supporting an effort on social media to bring back the skier and boardercross events to the 2013 Winter X Games.
In August, ESPN announced that the events, along with the adaptive-skiing version known as Mono Skier X, would not be a part of the 2013 Winter X Games in Aspen. Boardercross was featured in the first X Games in 1997, with skiercross joining the following winter. Mono X became an X Games event five years ago. The events see between four and six athletes at a time hurl themselves down a course complete with table-top jumps and banked turns in an all-out race to the finish line.
Since the announcement, there has been a push among athletes and fans on social media to garner support for the sport.
“We’re definitely talking among ourselves and with our sponsors about what can be done,” said Ferguson of Aspen, who has competed in Mono Skier X all but one year it has been featured at the X Games and taken home two medals.
Dropping the events is a step back for the sport, which has experienced many subsequent years of growth, Ferguson said. Hopefully, gathering support from fans will help bring it back, he said.
The largest Facebook group in support of bringing back the competition, simply titled “Bring Back the X Course to Winter X Games,” has garnered over 2,000 likes since it was created about two weeks ago.
The group was created by Olympic skiercross racer Chris Del Bosco, Del Bosco’s sister Heather Centurioni and six-time X Games boardercross gold medal winner Nate Holland.
The three decided to create the group after multiple fans and athletes began contacting them individually to express their shock about the competition being dropped from the games, Centurioni said.
“We saw the need relatively quickly when it was announced,” Centurioni said, adding that they were surprised by how quickly the Facebook group grew. “... But I know those athletes are really hurting. It really took a lot out of them when they heard that the event was dropped.”
People often forget that athletes rely on sponsorship money received during the aired competition in order to support themselves during the year, Centurioni said. Taking the sport out of the X Games makes it that much more difficult to finance themselves year-round as athletes, she said.
Tim Reed, ESPN’s senior director of content strategy, said that organizers were aware of the social media commentary, but the company still is not planning to feature X course disciplines at this year’s games.
“ESPN will continue to evaluate the sports line up moving forward into 2014 and will look for opportunities to include the X course where it makes sense,” Reed said.
Meanwhile, Centurioni, Holland and Del Bosco plan to continue to grow the Facebook group and potentially partner with other groups and websites that have popped up including a site called “If You Build It, We Will Come,” which asks fans to take a photo of themselves holding a black sign with the phrase written across it.
“We don’t really have any recourse other than to have an outlet for the fans to come and show that there are people all over the world who are watching [the sport],” Centurioni said. “Maybe then they’ll bring it back for the 2014 X Games before the Olympics.”
For Ferguson, the Facebook group has not only given voice to those who support the sport, it also has shown that fans give the same kind of respect to the monoski athletes that they give to their snowboarder and skier counterparts, he said.
“It’s great just to see the comments of appreciation and recognition [under the monoski photos] right alongside the other athletes’ pictures,” Ferguson said.