The X Games, which might best be described as the Olympics for Generations X and Y, are not for the faint of heart. Events like Motocross Best Whip and Snowboard Big Air leave spectators gasping and adrenaline pumping.
And with good reason: extreme sports come with no shortage of risk, as evidenced by the death of snowmobiler Caleb Moore on Jan. 31.
The 25-year-old Texan, known for his innovative freestyle snowmobile riding, was hurt in a crash at the Winter X Games in Colorado on Jan. 24. While attempting a back flip in the freestyle event, the skis on the 450-pound snowmobile caught the snow and sent Moore toppling over the vehicle, which then rolled over him. A team of medics rushed in and after a few minutes, Moore got up and walked off the course before being taken to the hospital for treatment of a concussion.
Moore developed bleeding around his heart and was flown to a hospital in Grand Junction for surgery. He died five days later.
A former ATV racer, Moore switched over to snowmobiles and quickly became a star in the sport. He won four Winter X Games medals, including a bronze last season. His younger brother, Colten, won the gold. On the night of Caleb’s accident, Colten was also injured in a crash in which he suffered a separated pelvis.
Upon Moore's death, the debate over safety of the discipline is lighting up the wires. Are action sports of this ilk simply too dangerous?
Snowmobile riders Daniel Bodin and Jackson Strong both had crashes during the X Games this year, but both avoided being hit by their vehicles. Last year, Pioneering freestyle skier Sarah Burke died in a training accident on the halfpipe. Two years prior to that, snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a severe brain injury in a fall while training on the same Utah pipe.
But amongst the athletes, these are just the risks inherent to the sports they chose to participate in.
"I just look at it like this: Yes, we're in a dangerous sport," snowmobile rider Levi LaVallee said. "Anytime you're doing a back flip on anything, it's dangerous. But we're training to do this. This is what we practice, what we do day in and day out. We're comfortable with doing this stuff."
ESPN, which owns the X Games, has promised a thorough safety review and says it will enact appropriate changes. ESPN also expressed condolences and said Moore would be remembered "for his natural passion for life and his deep love for his family and friends."
See a short tribute to Moore from the X Games, below:
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