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  • The Winter X-Games - A Family Event?

    By Mitch Kaplan

    Photo courtesy BorealThe X-Games started out relatively small, an invention of ESPN/ABC Sports to generate some excitement among alternative sports fanatics. They soon proved so successful that a winter version was born. This season, as the Winter X-Games moves into its second year at Mount Snow, Vermont, the event has grown into a phenomenon all its own. Dozens of competitions in many sports - from skiing and snowboarding to snow-biking and snowmobiling - will attract hundreds of competitors. And, the entire thing will be seen by millions of television viewers on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2.

    Since the Games are aimed at the "alternative' sports culture, and since they draw immense crowds, a parent will naturally ask, "Is this something for me to bring my kids to?"

    In a word - yes.

    "It's crowded, but it's real conducive to kids," comments Mt. Snow local, Nancy Pierpont, mother of Noah, six, and Simon, age five. "There are lots of pros around, and the kids have easy access to the pros and all the venues. The kids love it."

    Indeed, Noah Pierpont will be an X-Games participant this year. He'll be driving a snowmobile in a pre-Games exhibition event specifically designed for children.

    "The idea is to get more kids involved in the sport," his mom explains. "The pros work with the kids - get them suited up in all the gear and attire, show them how to ride and how to drive the course. They work on the sled together with their own pit crew, do a practice run on the course, hang out in the pits, do the race and have an awards ceremony. But, primarily, the pros teach the kids safety."

    Minimum age for this event is six, so little bro Simon can't drive. He will be part of the pit crew, however.

    As to bringing young kids to the Games as spectators, Nancy's only caution is to remember to dress them warmly.

    Photo courtesy BackhillWill Mindel, a sixteen year-old local, recommends taking little kids up the course to watch events. "It's better to go up on the course to watch. When we were at bottom of the big air contest, there was a huge mass of people - a lot of them teens and people in their twenties - so it can be kind of hard to see," Will explains. "But, there are tons of places on the mountain to stand by the courses that aren't crowded. It's more relaxed to watch up on the course."

    Among the cooler aspects of the Games, Will says, is having the Mount Snow base area crammed with tents set up by the various equipment and sponsoring companies. "You can get lots of free posters, stickers and products. But, you have to expect it's going to be crowded," he says, noting that he'd never seen the parking lots so full.

    And, Will, points out, if you don't want to ski or ride, the whole experience is free. "You can just stand at bottom without buying a lift ticket," he says. "That's a real nice thing about it - it doesn't have to cost money." Spoken like a true teenager.

    Both teen and mom agree that the X-Games has been terrific for Mount Snow. "It's had great meaning for the community," Nancy Pierpont muses. "It brings a lot of people into the valley, and the hotels, restaurants and inns are full. The athletes are always talking to the kids about safety, and learning their skills before they try tricks. It's definitely the place to be. We wouldn't miss it for anything."

    "Anybody who can go, should go," says Will. "It's a good time. There are lots of extra things happening - parties, bands and stuff - that normally doesn't happen here. It's a great time to visit."

    The X-Games are staged from February 1-4.

    For more info on the Xgames visit their website here .

    For more info on Mount Snow visit the KidzResort review here .

    Winter X Games

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