Winter X Games officially gets underway on Thursday morning when the guys drop into Buttermilk's massive SuperPipe for the elimination round. Athletes from all over the world have converged on Aspen for the comp, and Aspen is buzzing as athletes and fans, locals and visitors alike, are prepping for the competition at Buttermilk, freeskiing on Aspen's four mountains, and all-night raging that's about to ensue.
Diehard fans of Bobby Brown, Tom Wallisch, and Torin Yater-Wallace are roaming Aspen's streets looking for free swag and autographs; college students from Boulder are hydrating in preparation for the inevitable partying that goes down; and locals are hoping for the traditional "X Games Storm" that seems to roll through Aspen every year during the games.
Without fail (hopefully this isn't jinxing it), storm clouds envelop the town of Aspen during X Games and drop pow onto Aspen's quartet of mountains--Ajax, Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk. If this year stays true to history, you'd be remiss to skip out on a powder day. Stay away from the Buttermilk madness if you're looking to spin some laps on your own and head to one of Aspen's remaining three mountains.
Ajax is the best option for banging out efficient hot laps. Look to the skier's left side of Ajax as you're climbing up Aspen Mountain on the Silver Queen Gondola. "The Dumps" offer steep pitches of tree skiing and glades.
Highland Bowl is a must-do at Aspen Highlands. The infamous bootpack accesses the best in-bounds big-mountain terrain in Colorado. If you're committed to getting to the summit, be sure to ski somewhere in the "G Zones" (ask a patroller or local), but a lot of people walk right past "Fun Deck" while hiking and they're totally missing out on one of the Bowl's best lines.
And if you're up to going beyond the roundabout that denotes your entry into Aspen, Snowmass will probably be pretty empty. You can spin fun laps in the low-angle trees off of the Big Burn chairlift for hours. "Sneaky's" and "Powerline" are worth checking out. While a bit more coverage is needed to tee-up the cliff-bands that Snowmass is known for, the quick hike up to "Long Shot" is another good option for exploring.
All competitions take place on Buttermilk Mountain. The town of Aspen has the bus system down to a science and all buses to and from Buttermilk are free. So take advantage of the public transportation because you'll never find parking at Buttermilk.
Watching The X Action
Some of the best skiing that goes down during X Games happens during practice sessions. Check out the SuperPipe while snowmobilers are competing and don't sleep on the slope course during down times. It's always sweet to see Wallisch sessioning the rails during practice.
Don't Be Sorry For Partying
You're psyched if you snagged an invite to one of the many private parties that go down during X. The Target House, the Monster Party, and the Marley Safe House are just a few of the fetes on-tap. Be warned, though, the lists are tight and licking the stamp on your hand to share entry amongst your crew won't work here.
If you can't land a spot on the list, downtown Aspen has a handful of options. For cheap pitchers and shots go to Little Annie's. To get in with the locals check out the Aspen Brewery, Red Onion, and Zane's. Sky is the place to be for après; the 007s are all-time and the hot tub gets rowdy. And late nights at Eric's invariably go off. The newly renovated Hotel Jerome still has the J-Bar, which is a cool snapshot of the old days, too.
If you're staying away from the downtown scene, Highlands Pizza Company is a solid spot at the base of Aspen Highlands or head to the New Belgium bar at the Wildwood at Snowmass.
Skiing Event Schedule
Thursday, January 24
10:30 AM - 12 PM
Skiing SuperPipe Men’s Elimination (at the SuperPipe)
Friday, January 25
1 PM - 2:30 PM
Skiing Slopestyle Men’s Elimination (at the Slopestyle Course)
6:30 PM - 7:45 PM
Skiing SuperPupe Women's Final (at the SuperPipe)
8:45 PM - 10 PM
Skiing SuperPipe Men’s Final (at the SuperPipe)
Saturday, January 26
7 PM - 9 PM
Skiing Big Air Round One & Final (at the Big Air Booter)
Sunday, January 27
12 PM - 1:15 PM
Skiing Slopestyle Men's Final (at the Slopestyle Course)
1: 30 PM - 2:45 PM
Skiing Slopestyle Women's Final (at the Slopestyle Course)
Check back with Powder.com throughout X Games for daily coverage.