Thousands of sports enthusiasts have gathered every January since 2002 in Aspen, Colo., for one the greatest extreme sporting events of the calendar year: The Winter X Games.
This year’s X Games feature eight events in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, young people dominate the crowds and often wait hours to see Shaun White turn a 1080 in the half pipe.
College students from around the country flock to Buttermilk Mountain to see the superstar athletes and trendy sponsors.
Students from CU are no exception. Snow and sport fanatics regularly travel the 200 miles on Interstate 70 into Aspen. The only problem is Aspen and Snowmass were both named to the 2006 Forbes.com top-500 most expensive cities in the United States.
So, the question remains. How does a CU student get to the X Games on a college budget?
The great thing about the X Games is all sporting events and concerts are free to the public. You can save your money on event tickets and splurge on a great meal with great friends.
“Last year we got a group of people and split the cost of getting up there,” said Tiffany Valdez, a sophomore psychology major.
“We rented an affordable condo that was close to the mountain and crammed people in it,” Valdez said. “It was kind of a tight squeeze, but by the end everyone learned to love each other, and we had money left over for food and other things.”
The first obstacle is traveling from Boulder to Aspen and back. The most economically efficient way is to carpool with friends.
Private transportation companies, such as Colorado Mountain Express, are pricey and normally only run to and from Denver International Airport.
If you hope to land a hotel room once you’re there, you probably should have made plans earlier.
“We’ve been mostly booked for at least a couple of weeks now,” said Alejandro Rojas, a vacation expert who represents Aspen/Snowmass.
“If you want a room you need to start looking in November,” Rojas said. “The sooner the better.”
As of today, only one hotel room can be found in all of Aspen, for a measly $3,400 a night.
The cheapest alternative is to stay with friends, but hotels 30-plus miles away in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are the only other lodging options. Hotel rooms in these areas range from $139 to $400 per night and are still available to rent.
Eating in Aspen can be costly, so it is wise to go to the grocery store and purchase food or take advantage of bar menus available in nearly every restaurant.
With thousands of restaurants and nearly every cuisine imaginable, cheap and tasty eats are readily available.
One option is the hole-in-the-wall Johnny McGuire’s deli.
“It’s locally owned, and their menu is unique with lots to choose from. And it’s really inexpensive,” said Jon Gold, a freshman open-option major.
Another option is Hickory House, which claims to be the best barbeque in Colorado and averages around $12 a meal.
And last, why would you go to Aspen without skiing or boarding on one of the four magnificent mountains?
An adult lift ticket usually costs $80 per day, but during the X-Games Aspen has a special deal for college students.
The College X-Pass provides two days of skiing or snowboarding for $59 at Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk Mountain. The pass is only valid during the X Games, Jan. 25-28, and you must buy your pass at www.aspensnowmass.com by Sunday, Jan. 21.