One tweet seemed to capture the sentiment best: “It’s like the Dodgers without Vin Scully, just doesn’t feel right.”
No, this week’s Winter X Games won’t be the same without television personality and X Games icon Sal Masekela, whose 13-year streak with the X Games and ESPN ended last month with the announcement he signed a multi-year agreement with Red Bull Media House.
His replacement will be Australian Ramona Bruland. More about her in a moment.
Masekela made his X Games debut at the 1999 Winter X Games and had worked on every X Games and Winter X Games as a host or reporter since. In 2001, he became the overall host of ESPN and ESPN2′s coverage of the summer and winter events.
“The reaction has been far more than I expected and humbling,” he told ESPN.com. “At a certain point I think the network wanted me to make a choice, but the best thing to do was to make that choice and move on. The [Red Bull] Signature Series had already been so much fun and what was put on the table for the next two years, it allowed me to say you know what, now’s a good time to move on to something greater.”
Based on a number of tweets this week, his fans are not taking it well.
Another tweeter wrote, “Watching XGAMES w/out @SalMasekela is like peanut butter & no jelly, Beethoven & no piano. Christmas and no presents. Yes, it’s a sad thing.”
Filling Masekela’s shoes will be Bruland, who grew up skiing in South Australia, and briefly competed in snowboarding in the 1990s. She is an action sports aficionado, earning a degree in “outdoor adventure.” Bruland’s adventures include Scuba diving, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, and alpine touring.
More from Bruland’s website:
Ramona started her TV career in Falls Creek Australia as a snow reporter for network news and simultaneously as the on-air talent for the “SNOWSHOW,” a travel lifestyle TV series that took her to more than 75 ski resorts worldwide bringing winter holiday destinations to Australian and European viewers.
In 2006, Ramona took full-time work with PlumTV as a producer/host, launching live daily TV shows in Telluride, before moving to Aspen, Colorado, to host and produce their national high-end mountain lifestyle show called “Top of the Mountain.” Also known for her role as host on the regionally popular live morning show called Plum Daily, Ramona then continued the adventure on the PlumTV network shooting her very own edge-of-the-seat lifestyle show called “Keeping up with Ramona.” From cameo appearances, playing herself, in the smash hit daytime soap opera the “Bold & the Beautiful” to living the dream while hosting Caribbean Travel + Life’s “Best of the Caribbean” television series, Ramona continues to combine her adventurous passion for the outdoors with captivating and innovative programming.
That continues this week as Bruland dips her toes into a new adventure, one she called “a dream come true.”
As for Masekela, it looks like the week is going to be a tough one. He tweeted Tuesday: “It is going to be an interesting week. They say change is good but it is also very hard. On the outside lookin in…with rabid curiosity.”
Upper photo from Wikimedia Commons. Lower photo courtesy of ESPN.