Winter X Games—pursuing the dream of wingless flight

By Doug Halberstadt

Sports Columnist

I have to admit, I have a new guilty pleasure. I love the Winter X Games. For the last few days, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit in my recliner watching Winter X Games 14 taking place in Aspen, Colo. I’ve been totally mesmerized by this eclectic group of men and women daredevil/athletes from all over the world.

From free-style snowmobiling to snow boarding on the half pipe, the one element that seems to permeate every event in these games is the defiance of gravity. It is nothing for these guys and gals and their equipment to soar through the air for record heights and lengths. Pursuing the dream of wingless flight seems to have found a permanent home at the Winter X Games.

The other common element is youth. I’m envious. There are a few contestants still competing who happen to be in their late 20s and early 30s. They are accused by the announcers as being old? I hope when those guys finally reach my age and they’re sitting at home watching X Games 44, they’ll regret those comments.

One of the superstars of these games is a young 23-year-old guy named Shaun White. In case you don’t know who he is, just look for the high-flying, snow-boarding dude who looks like he could be the illegitimate son of Carrot Top and Debra Messing. You can’t miss his flaming locks of long red hair when he’s flying through the air. He took his third consecutive Winter X Games gold medal in the superpipe this week.

During his practice run, he slammed face-first on the pipe while attempting his most dangerous trick, the Double McTwist 1260. Minutes later, sporting a nasty abrasion on his face, he successfully completed the trick during his final round and took home the gold in the men’s snowboard superpipe.

White will be one of the most popular athletes featured at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He will be looking to repeat his 2006 Torino gold medal performance in the men’s halfpipe. Barring another mishap between now and the torch lighting in Vancouver, I’d say look for the high-flying red-head to bring home some more Olympic gold for the United States later this month. Now that I’m hooked, I’ll definitely be watching.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Feb. 3-9, 2010 issue.

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