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So you want to go to the XGames

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My goal every single weekend is basically to not hurt myself. And that was especially my goal this weekend when I headed to Aspen for the XGames. The life of a weekend warrior can be rough, and in “not my finest moment ever” I sort of hurt myself last year during the XGames in Aspen when I severely bruised my shin after popping over a roller and making a rough landing. The worst part about hurting myself in Aspen (technically Snowmass) was that it happened on seriously the first run of the day. I barely got to see a view of Maroon Bells before I found myself lying horizontally in a yellow sled heading down to the Snowmass medical center. This year when my friend Gracie again invited me to hang out in Aspen for the XGames I was determined to not make a ride in the yellow sled again.

I started the XGames weekend out on Friday by skiing at Breckenridge Mountain with a few of my girlfriends. I had not skied Breck all year, and I was excited to check out the mountain. Unfortunately, I quickly remembered why I had been avoiding Breckenridge when we started skiing. The snow was iffy and the crowds were too much. Don’t get me wrong I really have had some fun days skiing at Breckenridge in my life. Generally though it’s my least favorite mountain on the Vail Resorts Pass. I would just rather be skiing Keystone, A Basin, Vail or Beaver Creek as a rule. The fact that I have a least favorite ski resort on my season pass is a slightly ridiculous Colorado problem. Anyway, luckily all of us ladies were on the same page and after a few hours of shredding we headed into town for some early apres ski. French fries with Siracha mayonnaise at Empire Burger definitely did the trick!

Eventually I headed up to the Aspen area on Friday night to meet Gracie and our friend Ari. We grabbed dinner and then headed to bed early for a day of shredding at Snowmass. The snow situation at Snowmass was not fantastic but it’s such a fun mountain to ski that we still made the most of it!

75830_10151438707076800_521240917_nHappy Australia Day at Snowmass!


Slopeside lunch. Gracie made me an amazing sandwich because she’s the best.

In the afternoon, Gracie, Ari and I all headed over to check out the actual XGames at Buttermilk. XGames weekend is always a great time to ski in Aspen because everyone is at the XGames, not skiing at the mountains. We thought it would be fun to catch some of the events though, so after skiing we began the logistical nightmare that is trying to actually go to the XGames.

IMG_5501The XGames hire National Park Service shuttle buses for extra capacity. This one is from Bryce Canyon National Park.

The journey began with us driving to Aspen, since there was no parking available outside of Buttermilk. Once we drove to Aspen and found parking we then had to walk until we found a bus to the Games. There were tons of people at all of the bus stops so we took a rogue approach and tried to find a more obscure bus stop. Miraculously it worked as Ari flagged down a bus on a random side street.

At the actual Games site we were herded through some muddy entrance gates until we finally got to bag check. I stopped to take a picture and got yelled at by security but oh well.

IMG_5506My illegal picture.

It was a day with a high of 40 degrees in Aspen which meant disastrous things for the snowy walkways at the XGames. There was also a slight slope that the spectators had to walk to up to get to the viewing area. You do the math – we were slipping all over the place.

Like any good XGames spectators we headed over to the viewing area to try and watch one of the snowmobile events. Except when we got to the viewing area we could not see the event at all. So there we were standing on a slippery slope, watching the snowmobile event take place on a big screen projector. I imagine that spectating the XGames is somewhat like what attending the recent presidential inauguration would be like. Sure you might be there in person but you’re really just standing there and watching it on a TV screen just like everyone else at home.

IMG_5510Still really cool to see how big the features were in real life.

Obviously we gave up on the snowmobile event. Even so we still weren’t quite ready to give up on the XGames entirely. We tried to stay for the Calvin Harris concert, however, when we got over to the concert area we again faced the same issues with huge crowds (average age of the crowd: 14) and slippery slopes. I don’t know about Gracie and Ari but at that point I was basically at my breaking point. We took a deep breath, fought our way out of the crowds and left the XGames to head back to Aspen. It was probably the best decision of the afternoon.

I can see how in theory if we had gone to Aspen solely to watch the XGames, were wearing crampons for better grip on the snow and had arrived at 9:00 am to stake out good viewing spots they might be fun. We did none of those things and were also unwilling to stand around for five hours until the big air competitions started, which definitely would have been more viewable. I did have fun seeing the features and real life and getting a feel for the atmosphere. Honestly though you should not feel bad about watching the XGames on your couch at home.

The rest of our trip Gracie, Ari and I had fun playing the role of “jaded local” when it came to the XGames. Gracie and I made friends with a barista and a liquor store clerk by talking about how the best part of the XGames is not actually going to the XGames. They agreed. We ended up having a lot of fun going out in Aspen on Saturday night and were definitely sad to head home on Sunday.

IMG_5527This was my Sunday morning. How was yours?

Since I had driven up separately after skiing at Breckenridge on Friday I thought it would be a great idea to stop at Beaver Creek on the way home. I don’t often have the chance to ski three days in a row so I really wanted to take advantage of the fact that I was going to be passing through Avon on the way back to Denver anyway. Also, #YOLO!

IMG_5530Paula’s life: not exactly roughing it.

I truly believe that some of the best front range riding conditions to be found right now are at Beaver Creek and Vail. I can’t speak for the Winter Park area but Vail and Beaver are definitely in better shape than anything in Summit County and even the Aspen area.

IMG_5537I love me some Beaver Creek.

It was a gorgeous day at Beaver Creek and there was this mystical fog that settled over the mountain. I ended up doing some laps off the Birds of Prey lift – you know just some casual double black runs.

IMG_5555Can you say bluebird?

I skied for a few hours and then grudgingly decided I had to go back to the big city at some point. It’s like I always say: you know you had a good weekend when the worst part was going to the XGames.


Author: paulamahla

Typical Colorado girl that can't make up her mind. Trail running, hiking, climbing, camping, CrossFit, ultimate frisbee, and skiing? E, all of the above.

One thought on “So you want to go to the XGames

  1. Breck is pretty low on my list for the 5 mountain pass too…and I don’t really love ABasin, but I haven’t explored it much. Is there much to explore?

    I would not last long at the XGames, way too strict. We went to the Dew Tour at Breck last year – we were right on the half pipe about half way up and literally had the pro boarders/skiers just inches from us or flying feet above our heads…and no other spectators pushing us around! We missed out this year, but it was really cool!

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