Nine finalists named for new X cities

Whistler, Canada, the former home of the X Games Global Championship, is a contender for new X Games locations in 2013. Mark Kohlman/Shazamm/ESPN

ASPEN, Colo. -- Nine cities ranging from Santiago, Chile, to Munich, Germany, have been selected as finalists for three additional X Games locations starting in 2013, ESPN executives announced Thursday at a news conference.

The list of finalists includes three cities in the action-sports hotbed of Brazil -- Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Foz do Iguacu -- as well as Whistler, British Columbia (the only winter bid city); Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and Quintana Roo, Mexico. All of the finalists already have thriving action-sports communities and figure to help broaden the sports' global popularity in years to come.

Since the bid process began last May, ESPN received interest from more than 40 cities in 21 countries. Roughly half of those took part in a two-day workshop last summer at the X Games in Los Angeles, where ESPN shared its vision and long-term strategy for the X Games. Formal applications were due in early January.

ESPN officials plan to visit each finalist to evaluate its merits as a host city over the next two months. The winning bid cities -- which will serve as host of X Games events for three years, from 2013-2015 -- will be chosen in April and will join current X Games venues in Aspen, Los Angeles and Tignes, France. Aspen's status is currently up for review, with its contract expiring this year. Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president of programming for the X Games, said he expects ESPN will decide on whether Aspen will host future X Games "in the next couple of weeks."

Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director of ESPN International, said he was pleased with the global response and interest in helping to expand the X Games into new locations. "Our growth around the world has been driven by local relevance and in building a passionate connection between fans, our brand and our partners," he said. "The X Games is a key element of that growth into the future."

In addition to staging competitions in current X Games sports, the new host cities will also introduce additional sports and cultural elements unique to each city.