Concerns over the dangerous feats demanded from X-Games athletes appear justified now that 25-year-old professional snowmobiler Caleb Moore has died following his accident at this year's competition in Aspen, Colorado. CNN reported this afternoon that Moore died after being hospitalized for injuries sustained during a botched backflip last Thursday in a freestyle snowmobile heat. Moore's is the first death in the X-Games's 17-year history. ESPN—the network that hosts the games—has released this statement on Moore's death:
As a result of this accident we will conduct a thorough review of this discipline and adopt any appropriate changes to future X Games.
For 18 years we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts. Still, when the world's best compete at the highest level in any sport, risks remain. Caleb was a four-time X Games medalist attempting a move he has landed several times previously.
Moore initially walked away from the crash seemingly intact, but he was hospitalized later with a concussion and bleeding around his heart. Following surgery, he suffered brain complications and family members began to expect the worst. "The prognosis is not good at all," his grandfather told The Denver Post. "It's almost certain he's not going to make it."
Observers have been predicting a deadly turn at the X-Games for awhile now. Deadspin's Brent Rose has been one of the many sports writers troubled by the growing risks involved in competing at X-Games levels. This morning, he wrote:
[Competitors] know as well as anyone that the X Games have only gotten more dangerous. It has nothing to do with the parks. In fact, every skier and boarder I talked to said the superpipe, big air, and slopestyle courses were the best they had ever been on. ESPN and the event sponsors have ramped up the medical staff, and the athletes' equipment has gotten better and better. The reason the X Games are increasingly risky is because every year it requires more to win. Each year somebody pulls off an incredible stunt nobody has ever done before ... and each year the bar is raised, and each year the athletes have to brush closer against the upper limit of their capabilities. They have to go bigger if they want to win, whether they have the skills to or not. Maybe even whether they want to or not.