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.
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.