The 2017 Winter X-Games kicks off in Aspen, Colorado, on January 26, 2017. The invitational competition will pit the hottest winter extreme sports athletes against one another, but it’s as much a festival as it is a competition. Fans flock from around the world to see their favorite athletes compete, but also to soak in the atmosphere and party. Bassnectar, the Chainsmokers, and G-Eazy are just some of the artists scheduled to perform this year.
It’s also an event designed to push at the limits of extreme sports. It’s where Tony Hawk landed the infamous 900, where Travis Pastrana landed the first ever motocross double back-flip, and where Heath Frisby somehow managed the first ever front flip on a snow mobile.
Speaking of firsts, in 1999 the X-games was the first sporting event to live-stream online, lifting sports broadcasting into the internet age. In 2015, they continued to push at the boundaries by adopting drone cameras as part of their coverage. That only lasted one year, though. The controversial equipment was banished from the 2016 event after an Austrian skier was almost hit by a malfunctioning drone in a race in Italy.
Will the games bring the controversial technology back for 2017? If they do, those little flying cameras will have some novel events to film. The 2017 games will see the introduction of Women’s Ski and Snowboard Big Air and Snow Biking.
The addition of Women’s Big Air is no surprise. Women’s Snowboard Big Air was in the X-Games from 1997 to 2001; both were included in the Oslo X-Games in 2016 and the European ladies crushed it. Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen and Cheryl Maas took home gold in the ski and snowboard events, respectively. Everyone wants to see what their American counterparts can do.
Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite Winter X-Games athletes and how they’ll fare against their competition, along with some props on drones …
2017 Winter X-Games Odds
Odds to win gold
Silje Norendal: 1/1
Silje won gold at the 2014 and 2015 X-Games in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle, and also took gold in the 2013 Winter X-Games Europe. Though she had a disappointing showing at the Sochi Olympics, as far as the X-Games goes, she’s the queen of Slopestyle.
Kelly Sildaru: 5/3
At just 13 years old, Kelly became the youngest gold medalist at a Winter X-Games. Now that she’s reached the ripe old age of 14, you just hope she isn’t past her prime. I jest, of course. This year, she beat Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen to take home gold in the Ski Slopestyle. She’ll be back in 2017 for more, likely competing in both slopestyle and big air.
Shaun White: 7/3
From 2003 to 2013, Shaun White won a gold medal in at least one X-Games event each year except for 2007. But the rockstar of snowboarding has had a few lackluster years of late and was not invited to the last X-Games after he called it’s attempt to go global “a complete failure.”
He’s back in 2017 and hoping to reclaim his title as the king of the X-Games.
Sage Kotsenburg: 3/1
Sage won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in men’s snowboard slopestyle at the Sochi Winter Olympics, but he has never managed to do better than silver at the X-Games. He’s one of the most consistent snowboarders competing today and he’ll be seeking that coveted gold this year.
Katie Ormerod: 17/3
At just 19 years old, Katie Ormerod is the first female to land a double cork 1080. Last year at the X-Games, she placed sixth in Snowboard Slopestyle. She’s only getting better, though, and she enters 2017 as one of the top female athletes to watch.
Odds drones are used to film events: 4/1
ESPN has ample ways to get up-close and personal with the athletes as they display their skills. They’ve been at this for a while. There’s no need to risk using drones.
Odds to win Women’s Ski Big Air
Lisa Zimmerman: 3/1
Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen: 7/2
Kelly Sildaru: 4/1
Emma Dahlstrom: 9/2
Photo credit: “US Snowboarding Grand Prix Half Pipe” by John Lemieux, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.
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