The Winter X Games is an annual sports event, controlled and arranged by the U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN (with coverage also shown on its sister network ABC), which focuses on extreme sports. The inaugural Winter X Games were held in summer 1997 in Big Bear Lake, California. Participants compete to win bronze, silver and gold medals, and prize money.
Winter X Games VIII in 2002 was the first time that an X Games event was televised live and also had coverage by ESPN's flagship news program, SportsCenter. Viewership across the three networks that carried coverage of the event – ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2 – exceeded last year's household average by 30% according to Nielsen Media Research. The event also reached record highs in several demographic categories. To accommodate the first-time live coverage, nighttime competitions were added, resulting in record attendance for the Aspen/Snowmass venue.
The 2002 Winter X Games were a huge year for ESPN and the X Games. It was the first year that the games were held in Aspen, Colorado, at Buttermilk Mountain. The Games continued to add new events, including the Ski Slopestyle event and the Ski Superpipe event. The most memorable incident of the 2002 Games was when the entire 2002 U.S. Olympic freestyle snowboarding team showed up to compete in the Winter X Snowboard Superpipe event, just weeks before the Salt Lake City Olympics. Also in 2002, ESPN announced the establishment of the X Games Global Championship. The Global Championship featured two distinct venues hosting competitions in summer and winter action sports simultaneously. It consisted of six teams of the world’s top athletes, grouped together by their region of origin, to compete in the four day event. The winter sports were held in Whistler Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia, and the events included snowboarding and skiing.
The Winter X Games are held in January or February (usually in January) and the Summer X Games are usually held in August, both in the United States. The location of the Winter X Games is in Aspen through 2019, while the location for the Summer X Games has been in Los Angeles, changing to Austin in June 2014. The X Games also has international competitions and demos around the world that are held at varying times throughout the year. The games are shown live on television.
The Winter X Games are, as described by ESPN (2008), a competition compiled of the greatest winter action sport athletes from around the world competing on an annual basis. The competition has day and evening events including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. The first Winter X Games took place at Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, California, in 1997. The following two years, the Games were held at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. The two years following that, the Games were held in Mount Snow, Vermont. Since 2002, the Winter X Games have been held at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado, and according to ESPN they will continue to be held there until 2019.