ESPN has selected Aspen/Snowmass to host the eighth annual Winter X Games, January 22-25, 2004. Ron Semiao, Senior Vice President, ESPN Original Entertainment, and David Perry, Aspen Skiing Company Senior Vice President, made the announcement today.

The Winter X Games is the premier winter action sports event in the world, featuring more than 250 athletes from across the globe competing for medals and prize money in the following sports: Moto X, Ski, Snowboard and Snowmobile. The event will air on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports Jan. 24-28, 2004, while ESPN International will distribute the Games to more than 110 million homes in more than 145 countries and territories around the world.

Aspen/Snowmass was the host resort for the past two events — Winter X Games VI (2002) and VII (2003). This will mark the first time a city has hosted an X Games event (summer or winter) for three consecutive years. Primarily, X Games events change sites every two years.

“We are thrilled to bring the Winter X Games back to Aspen/Snowmass,” Semiao said. “Aspen is one of the world’s most well-known winter resort destinations. Buttermilk’s base easily accommodates our entire event in one main area and has slopes with perfect pitch for the venues. Aspen Skiing Company is a fantastic team to work with and our athletes, sponsors and affiliates love Aspen. The spectator support and the embracing attitude of the town have been incredible. When you put all these considerations together, returning to Aspen for an unprecedented third year was an easy decision to make.”

“This long-awaited great news is cause for celebration. The energy level that the Winter X Games brings to Aspen/Snowmass is off the charts, and the event coverage enables us to get the word out to the world that Aspen/Snowmass is an exciting, special place,” says Perry. “A great deal of hard work and communication went into bringing back the Winter X Games for the third year. We couldn’t have made it happen without the tremendous support of the Aspen/Snowmass community.”

All Winter X Games VIII events will be held at Buttermilk, an Aspen/Snowmass area mountain. There are four ski areas in the Aspen/Snowmass area – Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk – all operated by Aspen Skiing Company.

This past January, Winter X Games VII in Aspen drew a crowd of more than 48,000 spectators over the four-day event, exceeding the 2002 attendance in Aspen by more than 12,000. The event also set television viewership records. Including all telecasts (which aired on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports), the three networks garnered an average of 412,673 households, the highest in the event’s history and a 33% increase from the 310,810 average households for Winter X Games VI (2002).

ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Action Sports, first developed its X Games franchise in 1995. The ninth annual X Games will take place in Los Angeles, August 14-17, 2003.