Winter X-Games 2018 Brings Big Air and Big Shows to Aspen (REVIEW/PHOTOS)

On January 25 – 28, the Winter X-Games celebrated it’s 22nd year in Aspen, Colorado with an action packed extended weekend of big air, big shows, and the biggest collection of cojones gathered this side of the Rockies has ever seen. Our own intrepid Arthur VanRooy braved the Arctic temperatures and endless varieties of mediocre Monster energy drinks to bring you this special extreme sports edition best-of list.

Best Excuse to See Fireworks: Martin Garrix

I’m personally not super into electronica unless it’s of the retro synth heavy variety featuring Space Disco Robots sent back from the future to rock our bodies, but as far as standard EDM pop fare goes, this young upstart was tolerable. It also helped to be heavily laden with local made cinnamon whiskey shots and to arrive in the last 10 minutes, in time to see about two songs and a ton of flashy things that went boom. Great show!

Best Sport Invented Specifically for the X-Games: Snowcross

Did you know there was such a thing as a single front-ski vehicle that looks similar to a snowmobile but drives like a motorcycle? Well, neither did the majority of the attendees that I talked to during the event. Most were confused and yet elated at the spectacle of these strange slim spectres drifting around the snow-banked track usually reserved exclusively for their more beefy brethren. It’s like watching Motocross but I didn’t have to inhale clouds of dust to enjoy it! Honorable mentions to the short lived sport of Super Modified Shovel Racing I found while doing research for this article.

 

Method Man and Redman

Best I can’t believe they didn’t phone it in set: Method Man and Red Man

Full disclosure: my expectations were set by the last time I got to see the Wu live in concert. They came on at least 45 minutes late, missing several members of the crew, and put on a decent if not slightly sloppy and abbreviated show. This being a set at a sports focused festival in a legalized marijuana state I figured the half pipe might not be the only pipe getting hit too hard but damn, was I ever wrong. The duo came out in a (figurative) blaze a full two minutes early, strapped with their own oxygen tank, and proceeded to light the place up for the next 90 minutes. Grooving in a relaxed yet energetic syncopated rhythm, Meth and Red showed why they were always the A-List of the Wu and worked the crowd like master orchestral conductors, throwing down tracks old and new and even tributes to ODB with a brief history of hip-hop lesson, all with a level of effortless perfection just not seen in today’s era of repetitive voice modulated schlock.

Best Big Air Event: Snowmobile Freestyle

When most people think big air they usually go for the default, snowboarding. Well you know what? That shit’s played out, there’s only so many times you can see people do a few flips and twists before you’ve seen it all. Skis? The same flips and twists, only this time you see the occasional X made mid flip by a pair of crossed skis. It’s almost all the same, and as a spectator it’s even worse as all you can make out is a small figure arcing over a giant hill far in the distance. So where can you get real intense action and huge air all in front of your face? As one spectator said to me, “it’s all about the throttle baby.” While the board-based athletes put maybe one contender down the ramp every few minutes, the boys of the ‘bile often made upwards of 6 passes in their allotted 75 seconds. These guys and gals were doing flips as their vehicle was doing it’s own flips, then getting fully suspended in mid-air several stories above the ground, only to wrangle their aloft beasts back again and make a graceful landing milliseconds before certain doom. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the future is here, and it’s mechanized.

 

Best Reason to Almost Lose Your Toes to Frostbite: LCD Soundsystem

After an especially long day filled with weathering the Alpine elements of both brutal sun and biting cold, the last thing you want to do is stand in a snow covered field for another hour and a half right? Well not if the legendary LCD Soundsystem is closing out that night. The band, coming off a spree of multi-night events in support of their acclaimed comeback album ‘American Dream’, played their first set of 2018 sounding refreshed, rejuvenated, and as tight as I’ve ever heard. Lead singer James Murphy, sporting a giant parka and fur lined hat himself, thanked the packed crow for staying around in the tundra-like conditions before launching into an epic rendition of “Us vs. Them”. James and co played through fan favorites and new hits, before eventually launching into an epic extended rendition of “Dance Yourself Clean” to close out the show that had the crowd dancing themselves warm and hollering into the night as if to forcibly fight back the frost.

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