ESPN Expands Skateboarding Programs

ESPN, the network that introduced action-sports competition to mainstream television audiences, is expanding its skateboarding programs to include new domestic and international initiatives. The announcements were made at the recent X-Games competitions in San Francisco, and included the news that the X-Games scored high in a recent survey of young people.

The network announced that Harris Interactive Survey, an independent research firm, found that among kids familiar with it, the X-Games comprise the second-most appealing sporting event in the U.S. among kids age six to seventeen. First was the Olympic Games, and others that ranked below the X-Games include the Super Bowl, World Series, and World Cup Soccer.

X-Games Camps/The Woodward Experience
ESPN also announced its intent to partner with the famous Woodward Camp to create several X-Games Camps/The Woodward Experience. The agreement would result in Camp Woodward establishing and overseeing the construction and administration of the sports camps, based on their model established at the original Woodward, Pennsylvania camp.

Summer sessions at the original Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania are booked solid a year in advance, so the need for additional facilities is clear. The first X-Games Camp/The Woodward Experience is expected to open in 2002, although the location has not been determined. The new curriculum wil be similar to the original Camp Woodward’s, which includes skateboarding, bicycle-stunt riding, in-line skating, and gymnastics.

International X-Games Events
ESPN’s latest international endeavors include expanding the X-Games events to include several international franchises. ESPN President George Bodenheimer recently announced that in the next eighteen months more than ten X-Games events will take place on five continents, including X-Games qualifiers, Junior X-Games, the Asian X-Tour, the X-Games, and the Winter X-Games.

Current X-Games events in the U.S. and Thailand will be joined by events in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Spain. The success of the X-Games Qualifier in Phuket, Thailand last November prompted the expansion into other international markets.

The X-Games Qualifiers will include vert and park competitions in skateboarding, in-line skating, and bicycle-stunt riding, plus some events specific to each region. Top competitors will win prize money and qualify for the annual X-Games competitions in the U.S.

The Junior X-Games will be held at each of the qualifier events, and will provide “competitive fun” for children aged ten to fourteen from different countries throughout the regions where the qualifiers are held. The competitions will use smaller ramps, climbing walls, and other elements scaled for the junior athletes. The Junior X-Games will also include clinics and workshops with professional X-Games athletes, and the general public will also have the opportunity to try out the ramps, climbing walls, and equipment.

The Asian X-Tour will include stops in Bangkok, Taipei, and Singapore that showcase local athletes competing in bicycle-stunt riding, skateboarding, and aggressive in-line skating events.

The X-Games Global Challenge will take place in different locations outside the U.S. every other year. It will include seven teams of athletes, grouped by region of origin, who compete as individuals and as teams. The teams will include two athletes per discipline in skateboarding, bicycle-stunt-riding, aggressive-in-line-skating, and freestyle-motocross events. ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN International will televise the X-Game Global Challenge in the U.S. and around the world.