NEW ORLEANS—Thursday night, the Winter X-Games 2012 opened in Aspen, Colorado. There's a summer version of the games as well, and the network's attention on action sports is reaching New Orleans.
"It's weird to see people get that much money for what we all do and what people have been doing for a while for nothing," said Carlos Stich of the Humidity Skate Shop in the French Quarter. Stich is referring to the endorsements and sponsorships now associated with skateboarding. He says the X-Games bring the sport to an international audience, and the number of fans just keeps growing in the $5 billion industry.
Stich sells much of the clothing and equipment of the companies that pay the big endorsement bucks. Viewers of the X-Games become customers, and the interest develops early.
"Pretty much what happens is those kids tell their parents they want a skateboard. And then their parents google where to skateboard in New Orleans, and we come up," he said from the store as he prepared to put the wheels on a new board.
But it's not just about profit. The X-Games also lead to progress. Skaters say the spotlight helps convince communities -- like Hammond, Baton Rouge, and Mandeville -- to build skate parks. A new park is also planned for New Orleans, and Uptown skater Dylan Del Corral and his friends are looking forward to it. They're using an outdoor basketball court for now. Del Corral says the X-Games are great public relations for the sport.
"Regular people watch it on ESPN and it becomes more accepted," he said during a break in grinding runs on a mobile rail brought to the outdoor court.
The Winter X-Games air on ESPN during weekday event and on WGNO over the weekend.