Welcome to a new world of X Games.
In its 19th year, the world's foremost action sports competition is set to embark on an unprecedented six-stop, eight-month sprint around the world, including the three new sites in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil; Barcelona; and Munich.
The international thrill ride has also added two new disciplines to its event roster, an expanded Real Series video-part contest, and a music and arts showcase at each location. It all kicks off on Jan. 24 at X Games Aspen, host of X Games since 2002.
Drawing from the increasing popularity of action sports around the globe and utilizing exotic locales, the next stage of the X Games will take advantage of local culture, style, tricks and flair with the selection of musical acts that represent the flavor of each location.
"ESPN has been committed to the X Games franchise for nearly two decades and is incredibly excited for the future and this new endeavor," John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, said last April when the expansion announcement was made. "We are bringing significant focus to this expansion because we believe in the universal appeal of these sports and competitors and want to share the X Games experience with fans around the world."
After a yearlong Olympic-style bid process, the X Games revealed the new summer-event host cities of Foz do Iguaçu, Munich and Barcelona.
After March's X Games Tignes, in the ski and snowboard paradise that is the French Alps, X Games Foz will boast a natural playground with the 269-foot Iguaçu Falls as its backdrop.
Located on the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, X Games Foz will host events at Iguaçu Falls, the Itaipu Dam and the Foz Do Iguacu Convention Center. The Vert ramp will be built next to the falls, with RallyCross and the Big Air MegaRamp built in front of the dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams.
Back overseas in May and June, X Games Munich and Barcelona will both set up camp in Olympic parks. The cosmopolitan city of Munich has staged numerous sports festivals and international competitions, and Munich Olympic Park will provide a unique arena in the middle of the Bavarian capital with all venues for the X Games contained in its boundaries.
The 1992 Olympic Games contributed decisively to projecting Barcelona's sports image abroad. The organization of the Olympics improved and endowed the city with first-class infrastructure that has since been used to host major sporting events. All X Games activities will be held in Montjuic Park's Olympic Ring area, a unique space with spectacular views over the city.
The tour will culminate in a grand finale right back in the U.S. in Los Angeles in August.
It's the return of an old favorite and the addition of new disciplines. BMX Dirt makes a triumphant comeback at X Games Foz. Women rule the bowl in the debut of Women's Skateboard Park at X Games Barcelona. And riders will careen down the hill next to the Olympic Park in Mountain Bike Slopestyle in Munich.
In all, eight sports and 26 disciplines will be part of the traveling show. In Munich, there will be less BMX (Big Air and Park will be included, but not Vert or Street), but Mountain Bike Slopestyle will debut on a famous hill that also hosts World Cup alpine ski races. In slopestyle, bikers throw inverted tricks off jumps and add freestyle flair off other features in the man-made course.
Other venues offer similar gems of which organizers plan to take advantage. In Barcelona, the vert ramp and park course for BMX and Skateboard will be constructed over the pool that Greg Louganis made famous during the 1992 Olympic diving competition, with the city as the backdrop. And RallyCross will take place on a hybrid course that zips in and out of the Olympic Stadium via tunnels.
REAL SERIES EXPANDS
This new world of X gets real with an expanded video-part contest called The Real Series, with three new event additions. Women take center stage in Barcelona for the multisport Real Women; Real Ski Backcountry makes its debut at X Games Tignes; and surfing returns to the X Games with Real Surf at X Games Foz. The three new Real Series join mainstays Real Street, Real Snow and Real Snow Backcountry at X Games Munich, Aspen and L.A. respectively.
The Real Series format is the same: All footage is shot outside the confines of parks and resorts. Athletes with reputations for creative uses of their terrain of choice make up the invitee list. X Games gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded by a panel of athlete and industry experts during the X Games telecasts, and fans are given the opportunity to cast ballots for their favorite video parts in a bracketed online voting contest in the month leading up to each X Games event.
For the coming year, Real Snow will go live with the online Fan Favorite voting bracket on XGames.com on Jan. 8, with winners announced during the live broadcast of X Games Aspen on Jan. 27.
"It's awesome to be able to support athlete-generated content through the expansion of the Real Series," said Tim Reed, senior director of content strategy for the X Games. "The videos produced over the last three years have been top-notch and we are thrilled to grow the program and provide a global platform on ESPN networks and XGames.com for more women and men in surf, ski and skate."
MUSIC, FILM and STYLE
Music has always been a big influence on action sports, from Dick Dale and the Beach Boys to Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies and now Lil Wayne, and the new world of X has a cutting-edge soundtrack with playlists from Brazil to Barcelona to Los Angeles. Each stop on the X Games tour will feature popular musical acts with local tastes in mind.
Kicking things off during X Games Aspen are headlining acts Calvin Harris and Major Lazer. Major Lazer -- a project by DJs/producers Diplo and Jillionaire as well as Walshy Fire -- and Harris both draw huge crowds at music festivals across the planet and collaborate with the likes of Beyonce, No Doubt, Snoop Lion, Rihanna, Dizzee Rascal and Ke$ha. Both Aspen shows will be streamed live and for free.
On the film front, each X Games location will screen a mix of movies tailor-curated for the host city and audience, from short animated pieces to feature-length productions. Whether the theme is action sports, music, art or anything in between, each collection -- hand-selected by X Games FILM -- is meant to be inspiring to youth and help tell the story of the culture of action sports.
Familiar faces, new athletes, music and spectacular venues make this the most ambitious expansion in X Games history. The new world of X is a global party that's bigger and better than ever.