DENVER — Seven weeks after a tragedy on the snowmobile course marred the Winter X Games, ESPN decided to scrap the best trick competition, saying it was a move the network had been considering before Caleb Moore’s death in Aspen, Colo.
Moore, a 25-year-old from Krum, Texas, died from injuries he sustained when his 450-pound sled rolled over him after a backflip gone wrong during a freestyle competition, which will remain part of the X Games program. In this year’s best trick contest, a rider lost control of his machine after falling off and it veered into the netting close to fans.
ESPN spokesman Danny Chi explained to The Associated Press in an email Tuesday that the elimination of the best trick discipline was being contemplated before Aspen and that “our review of snowmobile freestyle continues.”
“We will focus on motor sports disciplines that engage athletes who consistently compete in multiple global competitions reflective of the global reach of X Games,” Chi wrote in the email.
In a statement, ESPN said the change “reflects our decision to focus on motor sports disciplines which feature athletes who also compete in multiple, world-class competitions (e.g., professional events and tours) reflecting the highest degree of athlete participation, competitive development and the global nature of our X Games franchise.”
The Summer X Games will eliminate a similar competition — Moto X best trick. Other motorcycle competitions will still be held.
The safety of snowmobiles came under scrutiny after the two accidents last January.
Moore stayed down for quite some time after his crash before walking off with help and being taken to a hospital to be treated for a concussion. He developed bleeding around his heart and was flown to a hospital in Grand Junction for surgery. The family later said that Moore also had a complication involving his brain.
He died Jan. 31, a week after his accident. It was the first death in the 18-year history of the X Games.
In the best trick event, Summer X Games motocross champion turned snowmobile newcomer Jackson Strong tumbled off his machine after a failed maneuver, only to have the throttle stick when it landed and the snowmobile swerve toward the crowd as fans scrambled to get out of the way. No one was seriously injured.
Winter X officials recently scratched a snowmobile freestyle demonstration set for later this month in Tignes, France, so organizers could review safety protocols.