Are the X Games sacrificing safety on the altar of “good” television?
Dispatches, April 1999
“We’re still trying to figure out how to achieve that balance of excitement and safety,” admits Chris Schuster, an organizer of the downhill ski events at the 1999 Winter X Games in Crested Butte. Clearly the excitement won out as, from January 14 to 18, television audiences were treated to dozens of midrace collisions involving skiers, stacked six
Skiers, however, weren’t the only ones popping ibuprofen. Black-eyed snowboarders and bloody-fingered ice climbers boasted some gruesome mishaps of their own, including an ice-ax incident that sliced open climber Jared Ogden’s hand. Meanwhile, snow mountain biker Derin Stockton tore cartilage in his ribs during a qualifying run when a hard landing snapped his bottom-bracket
Many viewers are undoubtedly titillated by this glamorized mortification of flesh and bone. Still, it makes us wonder: Could things be getting a tad out of hand at the X Games? No way, reply tetchy officials, who point out that this year’s injury roster actually represents an improvement over the previous winter’s games, when nearly one-quarter of the field was wiped out in a