When the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) tradeshow moved from Las Vegas to Denver last year, it overlapped with one of the biggest events in the ski and snowboard world— the X Games, held the same weekend in Aspen. Last Monday, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) announced a new competition that will take place right before SIA and the X Games. The Denver Big Air will be on Tuesday, January 25th (the snowboard competition will be Wednesday the 26th), and viewers will see it on NBC and Versus. The jump, a 101-foot-high, 300-foot-long ramp, will be built in Civic Center Park, with the capitol building in the background.
Yes, this event will bring together the two competing events that weekend, hopefully drawing both X Games and SIA attendees. But, is there a downside to this crossover? We talked with the reigning X Games Big Air champ, Bobby Brown, about just how crazy that week will be.
Have you ever competed in the middle of a city before?
I did Freestyle.ch and London Freeze last year, and I’m headed to London in a week and a half to do it again this year. The crowds go off when you land a trick, which adds to the excitement. It’s a little sketchier for sure, but when the ramp is nice, it’s really fun. It’s weird skiing in the middle of a city. Basically, the whole metro area comes to check it out, which brings a more mainstream audience to the event.
The event is the Tuesday before the X Games. Will it give you a chance to work the kinks out?
The fact that it’s right in the middle of training is definitely not a good thing. There’s a chance we could possibly get hurt right before X Games, and that's definitely scary. Also, everyone’s worried about how we’re going to make it back and forth in time to be ready for the X Games. Basically, we get to Denver from the Killington Dew Tour stop, drive to Aspen, have a training day for X. If the weather’s good enough, we’ll fly to Denver, land three jumps and leave. We’ll have to fly back to Aspen and get right into competing. It’s hectic for sure. I’ve kind of turned into the spokesperson for the event, but I’m kind of freaking out about the schedule.
What does this event mean for your overall competition season?
It counts for points on the AFP World Tour, but it’s not the biggest comp in my season, that’s for sure.
What does this mean for skiing on the mainstream stage? Will it have any effect on skiing in the Olympics?
It’s definitely a good thing for skiing overall— USSA is backing this 100%. Bill Marolt (USSA President and CEO) was super enthusiastic about the whole thing. He wants to get slope and pipe into the Olympics just as bad as we do.
Do you know anyone else planning on competing?
[Shouts to the other room] Hey Gus, are you competing? Yeah, Gus Kenworthy will be there. Not sure about anyone else, though. Everyone’s still trying to figure out how to make the schedule work.