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The X Games come to Whistler

The Story


Whistler, B.C., has become, for three days at least, the world co-capital of extreme sports. The winter portion of the X Games is being held here while the summer competition happens in Texas. For Whistler, that means many of the planet's best snowboarders and skiers are performing incredible tricks in pursuit of fame, sponsors and $660,000 US in prizes. Quebec City snowboarder Guillaume Morisset says the Olympics are important but the X Games are huge with youthful viewers. The X Games, born in 1995, have recently become a little like the Olympics, while the Olympics have become a little like the X Games. At this year's X Games, countries are competing against each other rather than just individual athletes. The Olympics, meanwhile, added snowboarding to its roster in 1998 to appeal to a younger audience. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 16, 2003
Guest(s): Melissa Gullotti, Justin Lamoureux, Guillaume Morisset
Wendy Mesley, Karen Larson
Duration: 2:16

Did You know?


• The winter portion of the X Games Global Championship was held in Whistler from May 15 to 18, 2003. Including the summer events held in San Antonio, Texas, Canada finished the competition in fourth place with 132 points. Other scores:
- The United States won the Games with 196 points.
- Europe was second with 167.
- Australia was third with 142.
- Canada beat Asia and South America.

• Two Canadian women were stars of the Games. Natasza Zurek of Vancouver won the women's snowboard superpipe (an oversized half-pipe with six-metre walls) competition. Sarah Burke, of Midland, Ont., triumphed in the ski superpipe competition. She also became the first woman to land a 720 — two complete flips — in competition.

• Guillaume Morisset, featured in this clip, placed seventh in the men's snowboard superpipe. Another Canadian snowboarder also featured in the clip, Justin Lamoureux of Whistler, finished fifth in the same competition.
• The earliest that the X Games could potentially return to Whistler is 2008. Aspen, Colo., signed a long-term deal with American sports network ESPN to keep the Games there until at least 2007.

• The X Games are the brainchild of Ron Semiao, an ESPN producer. In 1993, he recognized that the increasingly popular extreme sports would make great television and started to develop a made-for-TV competition. The first Extreme Games, as they were originally called, were held in 1995 with events in Rhode Island and Vermont.

• The first Winter X Games were held in 1997 in Big Bear Lake, Calif. Events included snowboarding, ice climbing, snow mountain bike racing, shovel racing and a crossover multi-sport. They were broadcast to 198 countries in 21 languages.
• The 2003 Winter Games weren't the first X Games event held outside the United States. In 1996, the Games hosted an exhibition of bicycle stunts, in-line skating and skateboarding in the shadow of ancient temples in Shanghai, China.

• "Aggressive" in-line skating debuted at the first X Games in 1995. ESPN announced in March 2005 that the American X Games was dropping the sport as a competition although it would continue to appear in the international X Games. The network said that "domestically, this sport isn't growing at the rate of our other sports. It is still a strong sport in other countries around the world..."


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