Winter X Games returns to Tignes
We look ahead to this years Winter X Games Europe
by Will Rogers
20 - 22 March 2013
The winter X Games Europe is back once again this year in Val Claret, Tignes from 20th to 22nd March. 150 of the worlds best skiers and snowboarders will be taking to the sky for 3 days of high altitude, high octane action. The X Games has become the iconic image of extreme sports competition, since its creation of the summer games back in 1997. It was only a matter of months before the first Winter X Games were created and held at Snow Summit Mountain in California. Now, 16 years later, the games are the pinnacle of extreme winter sports and up until not long ago, were considered more important to the sport of freestyle than the Winter Olympics.
Tignes has always had a love affair with freeriding and freestyle, and because of this, its become a pioneer in new and alternative sports within Europe. So much so that it held the first freestyle skiing world championship in 1986. The reputation as the european freestyle capital was cemented into place in 2010 when the X Games first left its American shores for the French ski resort. Now three years later and its fourth set of games, Tignes is pulling in the huge crowds. The first three days of competition in 2010 brought in 66,200 spectators, however, last year the numbers peaked at 103,600 over the three days, with 41,500 people turning up for the mens Superpipe finals to watch the legendary Shaun White.
Superpipe under the lights
The most anticipated event of the competition is undoubtedly the Superpipe. The XXL pipe has been constructed using 44,000m³ of artificial snow and is over 50m longer than a regular half pipe at 176m long. The intimidation factor is increased when you also take into account that it is seven meters high and nearly 20 meters wide. However, these king size dimensions ensure that the athletes are able to get the maximum amount of amplitude and speed out of the pipe. This proves to be vital when both the ski and snowboard competitors are judged on the difficulty of their run, their height out of the pipe, the execution of their tricks and their landings. This event runs throughout the three days with the snowboard finals being on the Thursday evening and the skiing finals being on the Friday evening.
Running alongside the Superpipe is the Slopestyle competition. The Tignes Slopestyle course is comprised of a number of different features including; rails, tables, hips and big air jumps. Riders are judged on amplitude, difficulty, execution and their use of the features. Elimination rounds run throughout the event, deciding who gets to go through to the finals that are held on the Thursday (ski) and the Friday (snowboard). The guys in charge of creating the course have gone big, using nearly 115,000 m³ of artificial snow, the course is 800 meters long and has 6 different modules meaning that the riders have plenty of scope for creativity and for getting some big air.
This list of feaured athletes is once again highlighted by the biggest names of the sport. The likes of Bobby Brown - Ski Slopestyle gold medalist, Jamie Anderson - women's Snowboard Slopestyle gold, Roz Groenewoud - women’s Ski Superpipe gold and Louie Vito, the mens Snowboard Superpipe silver medal holder, are all coming back to defend their titles. One individual to pay particular attention to is the only British skier in the competition; James ‘Woodsy’ Woods. After winning bronze in his first X Games two years ago, Woodsy has gone from strength to strength, winning bronze again in this years Aspen X Games. As well as this, a string of excellent results have ranked him in the number one spot on the Slopestyle World Cup, making him a favourite for the Slopestyle competition.
If you're lucky enough to be in Tignes next week, head over to the Double M piste in Val Claret and experience first hand the masters in action.
For more information, including up to date schedules and results, head over to xgames-tignes.com
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