John F. Russell: X Games wow watchers |

John F. Russell: X Games wow watchers

— What is it about the Winter X Games that makes us stop whatever we are doing for a few minutes just to gaze at the television?

On Thursday night, it was the big air action, the whine of a snowmobile motor and the realization that there are guys out there willing to risk their life and limbs to stop us in our tracks and make us utter under our breath, “Is that possible?”

Since 1995, the athletes of the Winter X Games have proven to the world that anything is possible. Their high-flying stunts have results in huge crowds that are willing to come out in freezing temperatures to watch guys such as snowmobile rider Daniel Bodin launch off ramps into the night air and amaze us with tricks including the seat grab flip, the Kiss of Death flip and the Superman Indian Air flip.

He does it for the money and fame, but millions of people turn on their televisions for the wow.

During the past three days, sports fans have been able to watch some of the world’s top athletes compete on the snow in Aspen. They thrilled us using snowmobiles, snowboards and skis.

I’m a huge fan of the Winter X Games, but to tell the truth, most of the names and a few of the sports are a bit foreign to me.

Last week, I found myself watching the action between frames while bowling in the men’s league at Snow Bowl. I wasn’t alone. Several of my teammates also were watching and talking about the events while bowling.

There is no question that the Winter X Games have drawn a huge following, fueled by the thrill-seeker in all of us. We like to watch the Winter X Games for the same reasons I used to watch Evel Knievel.

I watched him because I wanted to see if it was possible to fly that far through the air. I watched because I knew there was no chance I would attempt to jump the fountain at Caesars Palace or 13 school buses at Wembley Stadium or 14 at the Kings Island theme park in Ohio — but I could watch.

Knievel appealed to the thrill-seeker in me and allowed me to add a little spice to my own life without making the trip to the emergency room.

Daredevils always have been a popular part of our culture and have left a legacy that lives even in places like Steamboat Springs.

Carl Howelsen is the reason people used to brave freezing temperatures and flock to the ski jumps to watch him fly. His efforts inspired a legacy of daredevils in our community that thrill spectators at Howelsen Hill to this very day.

I’m not sure what it is about the X Games, or the young ski jumpers in Steamboat who launch into the cold mountain air, that makes us stop and say, “wow.” But it’s worth a few minutes of our time.

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