Even if Colten Moore doesn't win a medal in Aspen, he's made a major statement just by taking part.
Last year, Colten's brother, Caleb, crashed attempting a backflip during the Snowmobile Freestyle finals, with his snowmobile landing on top of him. Although he was able to walk off with help, he died a week after the accident. It's the only time that an athlete has died in the history of the X Games.
You could excuse Colten if he wanted to take a year off, but that's not something he's prepared to do, as he is in the field for the 2014 Snowmobile Freestyle finals. Moore said, per ESPN.com's Devon O'Neil:
"I think going back to X Games is going to be a little nerve-racking but I've dealt with it throughout the year. And I'm going to have a lot of family and friends there to help me, keep me calm. I'll pray to Caleb, and I know he'll be there with me. And everything should be good."
To say he'll have mixed emotions upon his return to Aspen would be an understatement.
Athletes always respond differently when friends or loved ones pass away. Some need to miss a couple of games to mourn, while others get right back at it. Brett Favre famously lit up the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football shortly after his father's death.
Although Caleb's crash will loom large in Aspen, Colten isn't letting it become a negative, per O'Neil:
"It's important for me to keep riding because that's what I love to do. That's what I'm going to do for the rest of my life," Moore said. "Not for one moment would I ever think of walking away. Caleb would smack me if I wanted to walk away. If Caleb was here and I was like, 'Man, I quit, I'm over this,' he'd be like, 'What are you talking about? Shut up, let's go.'
"I know for a fact he would not want me to stop or even slow down."
In normal circumstances, Moore would be right up there with the favorites to win in Snowmobile freestyle. Still just 24 years old, he's tasted plenty of success at the X Games before. He won gold in Snowmobile Freestyle and Snowmobile Best Trick at the 2012 Winter X Games.
With his brother's death hanging over him, it may be too much to expect Moore to reach the podium again.
Or maybe it's the kind of thing that causes him to perform with a kind of freedom he didn't have before.
Either way, the fact that he's even in Aspen is a victory all by itself, and it demonstrates that just because a person leaves this earth doesn't mean they leave it completely. Caleb will always be with Colten in spirit, riding along the entire way.
If you're not yet rooting for Colten Moore at the Winter X Games, you should be.
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