The Centre Cannot Hold – Olympics and Anti-comps put the squeeze on Freeskiing

The X Games takes place in Aspen at the end of this month, and 39 of the 250 competitors are past and present Olympians. The roster definitely skews to past Olympians, because X Games organisers have been burned by the Olympics in the past.

I spoke with Chris Schuster, Competition Director for the X Games and Winter Dew Tour, and President of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals for a story for Skier magazine, “Can Traditional Freestyle Hold its Centre?” He admitted that poaching of top athletes by the Olympics was a concern for X-Games organisers. “In 2006, a number of snowboard athletes pulled out of the X Games at the last minute because they didn’t want to hurt themselves before the Olympics or their federation wouldn’t allow them to compete before the Olympics. That’s a slap in the face,” he said, especially given that any new sports being introduced into the Olympics are being incubated, tested and developed through the X Games. “We’re hoping it won’t happen again this year, that athletes will think about who helped get the sports to where they are. But it’s a possibility.”  And there’s nothing the X Games organisers can do about it.

January 28-31 is when the action in Aspen takes place, and we’ll see if defending 2006 Olympic gold medallists Shaun White and Seth Wescott make it to the game.

There’s no concern with the skiers. The Olympics didn’t see fit to include their sports this time around… so the half-pipe skiers will be out in force.

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