The 19th edition of the Winter X Games from Aspen, Colo., is one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. Focus has shifted to this week's schedule and its role as preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi.
Several top athletes expected to thrive in Sochi are competing in Aspen, but there are a select few—including X Games legend Shaun White—that have backed out of the games, per Colin Bane of ESPN.
Here is all the vital viewing information for the 2014 Winter X Games, a full schedule of events and the top storylines.
Where: Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen, Colo.
When: Thursday, Jan. 23, to Sunday, Jan. 26
Watch: ABC, ESPN and ESPN3
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Thursday, Jan. 23||2 p.m.||Men's Snowboard SlopeStyle Elimination||ESPN3|
|Thursday, Jan. 23||7:30 p.m.||Men's Snowboard SuperPipe Elimination||ESPN3|
|Thursday, Jan. 23||9 p.m.||Men's Snowboard SuperPipe Elimination and Snowmobile FreeStyle Final||ESPN and WatchESPN|
|Friday, Jan. 24||12:30 p.m.||Men's and Women's Boarder X Final and Men's Ski SlopeStyle Elimination||ESPN3|
|Friday, Jan. 24||7:30 p.m.||Womens Ski SuperPipe Final||ESPN3|
|Friday, Jan. 24||9 p.m.||America's Navy Snowboard Big Air Final and Men's Ski SuperPipe Final||ESPN3|
|Friday, Jan. 24||10:30 p.m.||America's Navy Snowboard Big Air Final and Men's Ski SuperPipe Final||ESPN and WatchESPN|
|Saturday, Jan. 25||2 p.m.||Men's Snowboard SlopeStyle Final, Boarder X Final and Women's Snowboard SlopeStyle Final||ESPN and WatchESPN|
|Saturday, Jan. 25||4 p.m.||Women's Snowboard SlopeStyle Final, Boarder X Final and Snowmobile Long Jump Final||ABC|
|Saturday, Jan. 25||8:30 p.m.||Women's Snowboard SuperPipe Final||ESPN3|
|Saturday, Jan. 25||9 p.m.||Women's Snowboard SuperPipe Final and GoPro Ski Big Air Final||ESPN and WatchESPN|
|Sunday, Jan. 26||2 p.m.||Men's Ski SlopeStyle Final, Snowmobile Adaptive SnoCross Final, Women's Ski SlopeStyle Final and Monster Energy Snowmobile SnoCross Final||ESPN and WatchESPN|
|Sunday, Jan. 26||9 p.m.||Men's Snowboard SuperPipe Final||ESPN and WatchESPN|
Shaun White Drops Out
White is the most recognizable face of the Winter X Games and one of the most popular figures in action sports, but he dropped out of the competition on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in order to focus on his preparation for Sochi.
While few can blame him for dedicating himself to the Olympics, it will be odd not seeing the Flying Tomato tearing up the events at the X Games. White has become synonymous with the festivities, and this marks the first time in his career he will not compete.
The veteran spoke with Bane about his decision to skip the annual event:
I've been competing in the X Games since I was 13 years old, they are a huge part of why I am where I am and they are vital to the sport. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the mountain and looked over the schedule, I knew I wasn't going to be able to complete the kind of training I know I need in order to prepare for Sochi. It's an incredibly tough decision for me and it's not something I take lightly, especially as ESPN has always been a great supporter, but I have to make sure I'm prepared for the Olympics.
White has dealt with injuries to his ankle and shoulder, per Bane, and his decision to pass on X Games 19 was not made without consideration for all parties involved. He is smart to focus on getting 100 percent healthy and dominating the Winter Olympics once again.
Should athletes skip the X Games to focus on the Winter Olympics?
White will surely be missed at the X Games, but fans shouldn’t get mad that the action sports legend is skipping the festivities to focus on the 2014 Winter Olympics.
As Americans, we should be proud of his patriotism.
Other Athletes Refuse to Give Up
While White and fellow gold medalist Torah Bright have decided it is in their best interest to skip Winter X Games 19, there are still plenty of top athletes that view this week’s events as the perfect appetizer for the Sochi competition.
Despite the risk of reaggravating current injuries or even possibly hurting themselves just over a week before the start of the Olympics, each competitor understands that it is the X Games’ popularity that helped them reach the pinnacle of the sport.
The risk is worth the reward.
Two-time defending ski superpipe gold medalist David Wise spoke with Devon O'Neil of XGames.com about his thoughts on skipping the Aspen Games:
It makes sense to me if somebody would want to [skip Aspen], if they had their Olympic spot locked in and they just wanted to save their body for the Olympics. But for me, I think the more high-caliber events you have under your belt going into the biggest event of your life, the better.
White and Bright are going to focus on getting healthy and rested for the Sochi Games. While that’s their prerogative, it’s great to see the rest of the challengers and competitors not abandoning the X Games.
With entrants including former X Games and Olympic medalists, the action sports fans excited about the 2014 Winter Olympics will be in for a treat as Winter X Games 19 is the perfect opening act.