On Wednesday, ESPN announced that it would be adding some new events to X Games Aspen 2017: Women’s Ski and Snowboard Big Air and — are you ready? — Snow Bike racing.
Not to be confused with winter fat biking, the discipline, says ESPN, is “a competition of modified dirt bikes which replaces the front wheel with a front ski and snowmobile track in place of the rear wheel.”
Here’s how a snow bike handles when manned by a moto legend like Ronnie Renner:
It remains to be seen what the X version will look like in action, but its inclusion calls to mind some of the unique events the X Games have featured in its quest to constantly be innovative.
Though these events have gone the way of the dinosaur, they’ll forever have a place in our hearts.
Super-Modified Snow Shovel Racing
Super-Modified Snow Shovel Racing made its first and only appearance at the inaugural Winter X Games, in 1997.
If you aren’t familiar with the event, here’s a short description from a Los Angeles Times article about the race: “There are only 12 competitors at Snow Summit — half of them from New Mexico — and all will be racing up to 500-pound super-modified shovels, also referred to as ‘sleds.’
“But they are 12 of the fastest-sliding, shovel-riding daredevils known to man, reaching speeds of more than 80 miles per hour in their souped-up shovels.”
If you aren’t familiar with why the event was cancelled, witness one of the hairy crashes from its X Games debut:
“First, they said they were afraid we would fly off into the crowd, and it was a liability issue,” X Games competitor Gail Boles said of the event’s removal in an interview with ESPN Page 2’s Jim Caple in 2002.
“Then they told us we weren’t exciting enough. I had the crash of the year, and my friend broke his back in three places. That’s not exciting enough?”
Skysurfing is the sport of jumping out of an airplane with a board strapped to your feet and performing aerial acrobatic stunts before parachuting to safety.
The sport was featured in the inaugural Summer X Games, in 1995, and was a discipline up through 2000. Troy Hartman, the 1997 gold medalist, compared it to trying to wrestle an alligator while free-falling.
Unfortunately, the sport never had a huge participant pool, and the deaths of a few notable skysurfers helped contribute to it being removed from the X Games roster.
Street luge, like skysurfing, had a home at Summer X from 1995 to 2000.
Racers lie on their backs on luge boards and then pilot them down paved hills at speeds that can reach more than 90 miles per hour.
Rolling downhill at such high speeds just a few inches off the ground doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.
If you listen to the above clip, you’ll notice that the 1999 gold medalist, Dennis Derammelaere, had to come back from a heinous injury during the 1998 X Games, where he shattered his right leg after his foot made inadvertent contact with foam padding on the corner of the downhill course.
Look, everyone goes through an awkward stage in their adolescence, and in 1995, the X Games (then called the Extreme Games) was exactly that.
Which might explain why organizers thought it was a good idea to include competitive bungee jumping as an event.
“Stuff like bungee jumping, we felt that the audience might look at that and make an analogy to platform diving,” Ron Semiao, the creator of the X Games, told The New York Times in 2006.
“But bungee jumping is in essence an amusement park activity.”
According to Fact Monster, bungee was dropped from the X Games after 1996. It’s telling that internet searches turn up no photo or video evidence of the event.
Barefoot Jumping — or, more accurately, barefoot waterski jumping — is a real sport that really took place in the X Games, from 1995 to 1998.
If you ever want a useful piece of trivia for your friends, tell them that the first gold medal ever awarded to any X Games participant went to a barefoot waterskier.
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