“Did I cross it first?”
Friday afternoon in Aspen, history was made. Team USA’s Keith Gabel crossed the finish line at the top of Buttermilk Mountain to take home the first gold in Winter X Games’ Snowboarder X Adaptive.
As Keith roared down the mountain on a snowmobile, fist raised, he ran over to give me a hug and asked if he was really the first to cross the line. Yeah, Keith, pretty sure that huge gold medal around your neck says you did.
When Thursday seemed like any other normal day in the office, I was given a unique assignment. With less than two hours, I was tasked with packing and driving five hours to Aspen, Colorado, for the last four days of Winter X Games 2015 Aspen. After spending the summer driving across the country and catching the first night of Summer X Games at the State Capitol in Austin, I was more than excited to catch the winter counterpart — if not scrambling a little because of the last minute nature of the trip.
We were going to launch our Team USA Snapchat account, take photos for our website and social media, and grab video interviews with all of our athletes. It would be a chaotic weekend, but a challenge we were certainly up for.
After five hours on the road, Leslie, our social media assistant, and I arrived in Glenwood Springs, eager to get out on the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain. After a night of planning, we drove to the base of Buttermilk and met up with two of our Paralympian friends — Mike Shea and Keith Gabel. With the first Snowboarder X Adaptive race in X Games history a few hours away, Shea and Keith were more excited than nervous and stoked we came out to support them for Team USA. Shortly after watching the preliminary slopestyle races, we watched Keith win gold on the snowboarder X course.
Saturday, despite the flat light and single-digit temperatures, two of our most recognizable freestyle skiers, Nick Goepper and Joss Christensen went 1-2 in the slopestyle skiing event. After our morning events finished, we ventured into Aspen for an hour to grab a bite to eat before heading back for the women’s halfpipe. Aspen was so posh, so charming — and I became completely smitten with the beautiful mountain town. We then headed back to watch one of my favorite winter events — the halfpipe. We stood at the bottom of the pipe and saw 14-year-old Chloe Kim dethrone Kelly Clark and Torah Bright and become the youngest gold medalist in X Games history.
On Sunday, with only two X events left, we saw Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson — our Sochi gold medalists — take fifth and silver, respectively. Sage was easily one of the nicest, most genuine, passionate athletes I’ve ever met and couldn’t wait to take our GoPro and thank all the Team USA fans for sharing this journey with him.
As we left Jamie’s medal ceremony, Leslie and I gave each other a big hug, sighed, and then laughed. We had survived Aspen and absolutely crushed it for Team USA — on two hour’s notice and zero planning. We were so proud of ourselves and each other and couldn’t wait to share that success with our amazing team back in the Springs. I might have a terrible accent where “Winter X” sounds like “Winner X,” but you know what? That’s exactly what it was for Team USA.
Go Team USA!