From Aspen to the Alps

The Winter X Games Europe backdrop in Tignes, France. Andy Parant

You've heard whispers about a big new European contest with the letter "X" in it, and now you want answers. Fair enough. Allow us to ease your mind and set things straight: It's true. The X Games -- quite possibly the best thing to happen to winter since snow -- are headed overseas. But before you overnight your passport renewal form, let's get a few of the basics out of the way.


Winter X Games Europe will be held in Tignes, France, from March 10 to 12. Located high in the Alps, this stunning resort is no stranger to international events. It played host to the freestyle skiing portion of the 1992 Winter Olympics, so you can bet your personalized fondue fork that the SuperPipe and the Slopestyle course will be primed and ready. (Check out our event schedule for more contest info.)

Pillaging these incredible terrain features will be the world's top athletes. Just take a look at the list of invited riders -- for every Goliath, there are two hungry young Davids with slingshots in hand. ESPN.com will be covering Winter X Europe all week, so be sure to bookmark our event home page for videos, news, results, stories and more.

Speaking of stories, let's take a look at some of the drama we can expect to play out in Tignes.


The battle for Snowboard SuperPipe supremacy is going to be heated in Tignes, but with silver medal-winning performances at Winter X Games 14 and the Vancouver Olympics, Finland's Peetu Piiroinen is the clear favorite. A victory won't be easy: Eight other Olympians are on the pipe roster, including fourth-place finisher Iouri Podladtchikov and omnipresent double-corker Louie Vito, who will be looking for redemption on the world stage.

If SuperPipe is a battle, Slopestyle will be a full-scale war. All three Winter X 14 podium finishers -- Eero Ettala, Eric Willett and Chas Guldemond -- will clash again in Tignes. Factor in up-and-comers like Halldor Helgason, the hungry young Icelander who won TransWorld Snowboarding's Rookie of the Year award, took first place in the Winter X 14 Slopestyle Elims and straight dominated Winter X 14 Big Air, and well, you're looking at a Slopestyle showdown of no common order.

On the women's side, Olympic gold medalist Torah Bright will try to defend her status as a newly minted household name. Bright's competition -- including Vancouver vet Elena Hight and young gun Ellery Hollingsworth -- will be looking to strip her of that distinction. Things won't be any less competitive in Slopestyle: Jenny Jones, Jamie Anderson and Janna Meyen-Weatherby (who finished in that order at Winter X 14) will be going at each other's throats yet again.


Simon Dumont will be a man on a mission out in Tignes. He has a lot of Winter X Games medals to his name -- two gold, two silver and two bronze -- but he missed the podium completely in 2010. Dumont will be up against a powerful European contingent led by Frenchmen Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni, SuperPipe winners at Winter X 13 and Winter X 14, respectively. Can you say "home-field advantage"?

Ski Slopestyle, meanwhile, can be summed up in two words (or one New Edition pop star): Bobby Brown. The Breckenridge, Colo., local dominated Winter X 14 Big Air with his Switch Double Misty 1440. He won gold in Slopestyle the next day, and he followed it up with yet another Slopestyle gold at the Mt. Snow Winter Dew Tour. Among others, Andreas Hatveit of Norway and Tom Wallisch of Web edit lore will both be looking to knock Brown off his high horse.

For the ladies, Tignes will be just as competitive -- especially in SuperPipe. First you've got Jen "Hardest Worker In Skiing" Hudak coming in hot off her SuperPipe win at Winter X 14. Then you've got Sarah "I Was Doing This Before Any Of You" Burke and Megan "Nobody Really Knew Who I Was Until January And Now Everyone Is Scared Of Me" Gunning. Could this be a battle for the future of women's pipe skiing?


Winter X Games Europe will be historic for a number of reasons. One, we've never done a winter event overseas, and two, it caps off what might be the biggest year ever for the sport of snowboarding. The world will be watching as an entire winter's worth of progression comes to a head.

(You can put that passport renewal form in the mail now, by the way.)