The X Games Aspen is one of the highlights of any professional snow-sports athlete’s calendar. However, 2022’s event had special significance for returning spectators, and, here at Crua Outdoors, we were fortunate enough to be proud Xgames gift sponsors. We sent some of our Colorado team along, Dylan and Mason and they had front row seats, tents and hammocks to witness the X Games’ magic unfold. The spectators we’re excited, people we’re constantly in our hammocks, no matter the weather.
Thursday, January 20th
With the 2021 X Games having taken place behind closed doors due to Covid, there was a palpable sense of excitement as we arrived at the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain around mid-day. Greeted by blue skies, freshly-powdered pistes, and a team of enthusiastic organizers eagerly putting the finishing touches to proceedings, we couldn’t wait for the public’s arrival on Friday.
After being shown to our site by the wonderful Amy, CEO of iDesign, we set about unloading our gear – and we couldn’t have asked for a better view. Situated in the X Fest area, just beside the SuperPipe and the Big Air slope, our promotional stall, XTENT Maxx, Culla Maxx and Koala Hammocks would have the luxury of being located right in front of where some of the biggest names in snow-sports would be competing over the course of the festival.
The rest of the day at Buttermilk passed in a flurry of meetings, site set-up, and staring in envy at the pristine slopes that were being packed down for the competitors. It was all too tempting to try steal a minute to snap on some skis and hit the SuperPipe. Unfortunately however, there simply wasn’t time – and security on the run seemed pretty tight!
When we got back to the gorgeous Historic Redstone Inn that evening – our home for the next three nights – we settled down to try get some sleep, and prepare for what was guaranteed to be a hectic festival.
Friday, January 21st
We awoke to find the sun beaming down and, after slathering ourselves in sun-cream, headed off to Buttermilk to collect our staff passes and set up shop.
While some of the athletes were out practicing for the opening event – the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – we set about our own, unique, warm-up ritual: lugging our gear from the car-park up the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain to our stall in the X Fest area. There’s nothing quite like carrying a trestle table halfway up a mountain to really get the blood pumping!
By the time we’d prepared our stall and pitched our Crua XTENT Combo Maxx there were already crowds of spectators queuing for the grand opening of X Fest.
However, in typical fashion, just as the festival opened and the first couple of events got underway, the snow arrived. Lots of snow. Around one inch of fresh snow had been forecast, but it seemed the weather gods had other ideas, and close to five inches fell by the end of the day – a perfect live-action winter test for our XTENT Combo Maxx. We even has some people chill out in the tent for awhile.
Well, the forecasters loss was very much Crua’s gain, as suddenly, everyone in X Fest became interested in the stall with several pitched, insulated tents and hammocks, all boasting a prime view of the Big Air slope. Those lucky enough to claim a spot in one of our Koala Hammocks had some of the best seats in the house to watch Tess Ledeux taking home the gold at the 12:30pm Women’s Ski Big Air final.
Word seemed to spread pretty quickly about our ideal set-up, situated within spitting distance (other, more Covid-friendly measurements are available) of the SuperPipe and Big Air run. A few of the athletes even started popping by to thank us for providing each of them with a complimentary Koala Hammock.
Throughout the day, we were certainly grateful to have a warm, comfortable insulated tent on site, particularly as the mercury dropped to around 14F by nightfall. If only it had room service, then it really would’ve given our hotel a run for its money!
Saturday, January 22nd
The buzz around Buttermilk on Saturday was fantastic. Another snowfall overnight had covered the runs in fresh powder, and everyone was excitedly looking forward to the day’s packed schedule. After 18 months of struggling through the pandemic, there was a real festival atmosphere among the spectators flooding back onto the slopes for the X Games’ most popular day.
Thanks to the attention our stall garnered the day before, there was a veritable run on our giveaway stand, with spectators descending en masse like a swarm of Gore-Tex swaddled locusts trying to get their hands on some Crua mini-flags. We even had to start rationing out the giveaways such was the demand!
While having the privilege of watching Mark McMorris pip Marcus Kleveland to first place in the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle was certainly a highlight of the weekend, as with any event on this scale, it’s the people you meet along the way who make it special. For us, the greatest moment of Saturday ended up not taking place on the slopes but by our site, when Bob the Drag Queen and Monét X Change – two drag queens promoting Aspen’s Gay Week – came by to interview one of the greatest skiers in the world, Gus Kenworthy.
By the day’s last event, the Men’s Snowboard Big Air, there were so many people hanging around our stall to watch the proceedings, chat, and lounge in our Koala Hammocks that we actually had to delay packing up!
Sunday, January 23rd
Sunday morning started somewhat slower than Saturday – no doubt thanks to Saturday’s late night Illenium concert in downtown Aspen, and the free shots of Screwball Whiskey provided by the Aspen Inn! Indeed, those that were out bright and early certainly seemed grateful for their sunglasses.
While foot traffic thinned throughout the day, as the end of X Games began to loom and spectators headed home, the festival still had a few great surprises in store for us. The host of X Games, Jack Mitrani – who had a great presence all weekend – even dropped by the Crua stall to do a few segments of live TV from our area.
Many people would say that the winners at X Games Aspen were the athletes who came away with medals. However, some would say that the recipient of our Crua Hammock Culla giveaway (the lucky Megan, congrats!) was the real winner of the 2022 X Games.
After such a hectic weekend, when the close of the games came at 6pm it was certainly emotional to pack up and take our gear down the slope of Buttermilk Mountain one final time. We are ecstatic that Amy invited us back for the Summer X games, we can't wait.
- Rory Mc Nab