2016’s top ski and snowboard competitions not named ‘X Games’

Meet the alternative competitions that are worth your attention in 2016. PHOTO: Red Bull Content Pool
Meet the alternative competitions that are worth your attention in 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
While the Olympics are a big deal for many winter disciplines, freestyle skiing and snowboarding revolves around the Winter X Games.

Over the past two decades, the Aspen (and formerly Mount Snow) event has become the gold standard for freestyle riders, featuring top athletes and producing some of the most memorable moments in action sports history.

RELATED: ESPN and Intel team up to bring new tech to X Games

But freestyle competition doesn’t stop on the slopes of Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain. In fact, this year highlights one of the richest competition pools in recent memory, including everything from big air events to pond skimming world championships.

So, where is the action at in 2016? Here are five events happening this season that may not have been named “X Games”, but are still worth the price of admission.

We can’t all be in Aspen this January, but we can still watch some of the best skiing and riding of 2016, and, of course, do it live.

Fenway Big Air

Beantown meets Big Air in one of the world's most famous stadiums. PHOTO: USSA
Beantown meets Big Air in one of the world’s most famous stadiums. Photo: Courtesy of USSA
One of the most iconic stadiums in American sports will feature a new discipline this winter: Boston’s Fenway Park is set to feature its first-ever ski and snowboard big air competition this Feb. 11-12.

Dubbed the “Polartec Big Air at Fenway,” the event will be a stop along the U.S. Grand Prix Tour and will have World Cup points on the line, drawing some of the biggest names in the sport to downtown Beantown.

The in-ramp will reportedly rise above the fabled Green Monster with the jump landing zone ending somewhere near home plate, making for a once-in-a-lifetime weekend in TitleTown USA.

Legendary Banked Slalom

A staple in the Pacific Northwest, Mount Baker’s Legendary Banked Slalom will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

The Banked Slalom is a snowboarding obstacle course featuring a luge track of turns and rollers, as well as jumps and other snow features, all packaged into a race to the bottom.

Traditionally, the Baker Banked Slalom attracts big-name riders and is one of the best end-of-season parties out there, mixing pros with locals and with anyone willing to have a good time.

RELATED: Ski off the top of a condominium building at Slalom House

After warm temperatures and low snow levels cancelled the original 30th event last year, 2016 will be a redemption run for the Legendary Banked Slalom, so expect the snowboard world to celebrate accordingly.

If big air is still on the brain, the Northwest has you covered with Oregon’s Mount Bachelor hosting a huge $30,000 purse big air event (courtesy of 10 Barrel Brewing) this Jan. 17.

What says “good times” like a massive booter and some frosty suds?

Red Bull Cold Rush

You won't find any gates on this competition course. PHOTO: Red Bull Content Pool
You won’t find any gates on this competition course. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
Hosted at the vaunted Canadian steeps of Revelstoke, the Red Bull Cold Rush is a hybrid event that brings competition and backcountry skiers together for an event that borders on feature film dream sequence.

From Feb. 2-5, skiers will compete in a series of events, including backcountry slopestyle, big mountain, cliffs and new (this year) alpine touring.

This is a Red Bull event, so you know it’s done big and done right. Big names like freeskiers Sean Pettit and Tatum Monod will also be there to throw down on North America’s most extreme competition course.

Whistler World Ski and Snowboard Festival

Every April, the world’s best skiers and snowboarders make their way to British Columbia to celebrate a year well done and to crown the best in their respective sports.

Not so much a competition as it is an experience, the Whistler World Ski and Snowboard Festival is a whole week of concerts, film festivals, parties and the occasional heavy-hitting slopestyle and halfpipe events known collectively as the Whistler Skiing Invitational.

The fact that Whistler is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016 guarantees that it’ll have all the ingredients for one epic week in Canada.

Pond Skimming World Cup

Go big, or go swimming. Welcome to the Pond Skimming World Cup. PHOTO: Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine
Go big, or go swimming. Welcome to the Pond Skimming World Cup. Photo: Courtesy of Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine
Sometimes competitions showcase the best, sometimes they celebrate the bold. The latter will certainly be the case at the First Annual Pond Skimming World Cup at Sunshine Village in Canada on May 23.

Hosted in conjunction with Powder Magazine, the Banff, Canada, event will send the world’s most adventurous skiers and boarders flying across a large pond of water, wearing everything from floral print onesies and tutus to, well, nothing at all.

The spring tradition is strong in the Canadian Rockies, and this year it has a little added meaning with a World Championship on the line. Time to get wet.

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