A Detailed History of the Winter X Games

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With many fans anticipating the Winter X Games’ return to Aspen in 2020, it’s a perfect time to recap the history of the event. Over the years, this competition has become known as one of the biggest proving grounds for professional snowboarders, skiers, snowmobile riders, and snowbikers. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the history of this much-anticipated annual contest:

An Overview of Previous Winter X Games Locations

The inaugural contest took place in 1997, only two years after the original X Games.  It was hosted at Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake, California. Since then, there have been 22 Winter X Games, 17 of which have been held at Aspen’s world-famous Buttermilk Ski Area. The 2nd and 3rd year were held in Crested Butte, Colorado at the town’s Mountain Ski Resort. The 4th and 5th year were held in Mount Snow in Vermont. Aspen has remained the home of the Winter X Games every year consecutively since 2002.

A Timeline of Memorable Moments

Here’s a quick recap of some of the most notable things that have happened at the Winter X Games during the past two decades:

  • Shaun Palmer’s Epic 3-peat – In 1999, Palmer shocked the world by becoming the first athlete to win three years in a row. That same year, he also became the first multi-sports contender, competing on skis, snowmobiles, and snowbikes.
  • The Birth of the SuperPipe – In 2000, the event increased the height of the snowboarding halfpipe walls from 11.5 feet to 15 feet. In 2009, the pipe was raised once again to its current height of 22 feet.
  • Age Records are Set – Also in 2000, Tucker Hibbert became the youngest contestant to win a gold medal at the Winter X Games, winning the SnoCross gold at just 15 years old. That same year, Shaun White made his debut at the age of 13, making Y2K a year when still-unbroken age records were set.
  • The Most Prolific Female Winter X Athlete Appears – In 2003, Lindsey Jacobellis began a streak of winning that would eventually make her the most winning female in the history of Winter sports. Her first win was followed later by wins in 2008 and 2011, leaving her with a three-peat under her belt. Overall, she’s won 7 gold medals in snowboarding, more than any other snowboarder, either male or female.
  • Setting the Longest Flip Distance – In 2004, Caleb Wyatt flipped over a 90-fat gap on a snowbike to set a new world record. Mike Metzger and Nate Adams followed suit and made the same jump during that year’s contest.
  • The First 4-Peats – Janna Mayen became the first athlete to win gold at four different Winter X Games. That same year, Shaun White also took home a 4-peat by winning the Slopestyle competition.
  • The First Disabled Discipline is Introduced – In 2007, the Winter X Games launched Mono Skier, the first competition for disabled athletes.
  • The First Multidisciplinary Three-Peats – In 2008, Simon Dumont and Tanner Hall became the first athletes to pull off three-peats in two separate disciplines – Slopestyle and Ski SuperPipe. Then in 2010, Shaun White followed suit by completing a three-peat in the Snowboard Slopestyle and Snowboard SuperPipe competitions.
  • The First Skier to Win Two Gold Medals – In 2010, Bobby Brown became the first skier to win more than one gold medal during the same competition.
  • The First Snowboard Method Competition – In 2011,  Scott Lago won the first ‘Best Method’ competition.
  • The Tandem Backflip – Also in 2011, brothers Caleb and Colten Moore performed the first tandem backflip in unison during the best trick competition. Sadly, Caleb passed away two years later after sustaining fatal injuries during the 2013 Winter X Games, reminding everyone of the often-forgotten high-risk nature of extreme sports.
  • First Frontflip on Snowmobile – In 2012, Heath Frisby stunned the crowd by pulling off the first frontflip on a snowmobile.
  • The First Score of 100 – Also in 2012, Shaun White scored the first-ever a perfect score of 100 after a flawless run on the Snowboard SuperPipe.
  • A Memorable International Expansion Year – In 2013, the Winter X Games embarked on an international expansion with a secondary event hosted in Tignes, France, home to Europe’s highest skiable terrain. While this wound up being the only year that the Winter X Games was hosted in a foreign country and the only time that there were two separate events held in one year, it also went down in history as one of the most interesting years thanks to Iouri Podladtchikov landing the first-ever cab double cork 1440 in the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe contest.
  • The First Triple Corks – Also in the 2013 competition, Smits and Sandbech landed the first triple corks in the Big Air Final. Later in the same contest, Henrik Harlaut took home the gold medal with a perfect score of 100 after landing a nose butter triple cork 1620.

It’s been several years since we’ve seen any major history-making records broken or tricks performed at the games, so one could speculate that we’re overdue for such excitement in the upcoming 2020 Winter X Games.

What to Expect From the 23rd Winter X Games

If you’re wondering what to expect from the upcoming Winter X Games, check out our overview of the event here. It covers the tickets, passes, schedules, and other important details you’ll need to start planning your visit to the 2020 Winter X Games.