ASPEN, Colo. (Jan. 24) - With the winter sport festivities of the Winter X Games rolling into town this weekend, the X Games' newest sport to reach Olympic status, ski cross, will be center stage once again.
Among the favorites Sunday will be defending X Games gold medalist Casey Puckett (Snowmass, CO), Olympian Jake Fiala (Frisco, CO), alpine legend Daron Rahlves (Truckee, CA), and determined up-and-comers Errol Kerr (Truckee, CA) and Cody Smith (Spokane, WA).
"The X Games is a pretty big deal. It's a whole different level for sure. It's super fun out here. It's like a circus. There's a lot of excitement and a lot of hype," Rahlves said. "The course is the longest one I've ever done before. It makes you work."
Rahlves, in Aspen to train for the X Games ski cross competition, has been spending his time on the lengthy course wearing a helmet cam so he can give visitors to his website Daron Rahlves on daronrahlves.loopd.com - Home
a glimpse of what he sees when he competes.
"The X Games is like the Olympics of extreme sports. It's what our season is always centered around," said Head Coach Tyler Shepherd, a former X Games SX competitor. "You always shoot to do the best you can. It's a really well run event, well organized and just a lot of fun."
Rahlves sees the event as an opportunity to show international competitors what U.S. athletes can do. "Hopefully we'll give the rest of the competitors out here a hard time. I mean, it's our home turf."
Newcomer Kerr is just excited to do the things he loves best. "I like the jumps and the terrain. I am good at jumping and skiing in a variety of terrain," Kerr said. "I also race motocross and BMX, so the racing format is the same - everyone out of the gate at the same time."
"The X Games is seen by so many people and it makes athletes want to do well because it bumps up their profile. It's always a really fun event," Shepherd said.
The X Games competitions begin Friday, with ski cross finals on Sunday.