The X-Games is the original and first real collection of extreme sports in a competition format. Born in an era when these sports were truly niche and long before huge brands got onboard, it’s now a brand in itself. With all these changes is X-Games losing the plot?
Originally running under the title ‘Extreme Games’ in 1995 – this loose collective featured X-Games favourites such as motocross, skateboarding, BMX but also street luging, bungee jumping and even sky surfing. With the winter X games adding snowboarding, skiing and snowmobiling in 2002.
And it didn’t take long to get massive. Behind the TV execs and increasing coverage budgets was – and still is – a generation of people who share a love that spans these sports. And that’s its strength.
This year X-Games went truly global: The calendar started with Aspen (US) in January, then Tignes (France), Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), Barcelona (Spain), and Munich (Germany) before this week’s finale in California.
That’s not to say all changes are for the better… There’s a few grumbles that favourite sports haven’t made the cut for this week (BMX Vert and Park, and Skateboard Park). But for the organisers (ESPN) the X-Games is no longer about any one sport or event – it’s all about delivering a global show. And it’s increasingly a ‘show’!
Still, don’t think this leaves less room for innovation…big things happen at X-Games with riders pulling out some legendary moves – and taking some big-time, real-time risks to push things on.
This year in Aspen the previously elusive ‘triple cork’ became a regular snowboarding move, and Iouri Podladtchikov landing the first ‘Cab double cork 1440’ (he’s named it the YOLO Flip) at Tignes 2 months later.
So, what’s on the cards for this week? Well, there’s Street League Skateboarding, Skateboarding Big Air and Vert, and BMX Big Air and Street.
Adventure sports fans might turn their noses up at the petrolhead Moto X and Ford Rallycross racing, but this is the X-Games – it’s ‘extreme’.
Next year the finale will move from Los Angeles to an as-yet undecided location, but can it leave its spiritual home and never come back? We think not.
So what’s next for the X-Games? Is it too commercial or just becoming the spectacular you always wanted to watch? In short is X-Games losing the plot? Let us know what you think in the comments.
If you’d rather do extreme sports yourself instead of watching other people do them, then check out our adventure sport holiday discounts.