X-traordinary trip to Vermont for X-Games

MOUNT SNOW, Vt. – I set off with absolutely no sense of direction. It was 10 o’clock in the morning and I had stopped to eavesdrop on two-middle aged men wearing fluorescent green ski pants and what looked to be the newest pair of Nike All-Condition-Gear snowshoes.

A few minutes later, after trudging uphill through knee-deep mounds of snow in my low-cut sneakers, I found a solid patch of hardened flurry to stand on and focus in on my surroundings.

Looking left: I saw a huge sloping wall of ice. On my right: another gigantic sloping wall of ice. About 50 feet in front of me: Massachusetts native Todd Richards pulling an alley-oop-chicken-salad air into a fakie-backside rodeo… I think.

Positioned in the middle of the Super-Pipe outlet, I realized that my press-pass didn’t guarantee me the safety being enjoyed by all the other spectators watching from atop the enormous ice-chute.

I decided to slide back down the mountain. Hot chocolate awaited me in the heated press tent.

Now, I’ve been to Europe twice since August. And both times, I suffered a bit from that entire culture-shock phenomenon. That’s normal, right?

But last Friday, when I took the opportunity to attend the ESPN Winter X-Games at Mount Snow in Vermont, I was completely overwhelmed. I’m not going to lie to you. It was exciting. I just wasn’t ready for the Indianapolis 500 of snow-mobiling. And that’s exactly what I got – the Olympics of extreme sports with snowball fights abundant in the X-gallery.

My Winter X-Game experience took place at the finish line of Sno-Cross – the roller-derby equivalent of snow-mobiling. And it was definitely electrifying. Seeing 900-pound machines fight for space in mid-air is worth standing in single-digit weather. Trust me.

Sno-Cross phenom Tucker Hibbert is 16-years old. At this year’s X, his goal was to defend his gold from last year’s competition. That ambition fell hard on the second-to-last-jump of the final, however, when Hibbert’s sled tilted sideways, subsequently flinging the young boy and his mobile to the ground.

‘I think he’s O.K.,’ Blaire Morgan, gold-medal beneficiary from Hibbert’s mistake said. ‘He said his butt hurts really bad.’

That’s what Morgan said to me, twenty minutes after his rival was almost crushed by his own snowmobile. I can’t wait until next year.

Oh yeah, here’s your guide to the Winter X-Games: Wear boots.

Eric Soderstrom is a Collegian Columnist.