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X Games pares schedule down to two events worldwide

Global Expansion initiative over, winter event in France also chopped



After just one year, the X Games Global Expansion project is dead.

ESPN, owner and operator of the action-sport brand, announced Friday that it would no longer be continuing with X Games events outside of North America. The sports broadcaster cited financial challenges as the reason for shutting down the three new events that were introduced for 2013, as well as the European version of the Winter X Games that have existed in Tignes, France, since 2010.

"We are proud to have run world-class competitions for both the athletes and spectators; however, the overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path," ESPN said in a statement.

As part of the global expansion initiative, ESPN established new X Games events this year in Munich, Barcelona and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. The events also added new disciplines to X Games competition, such as mountain bike slopestyle in Munich, at which Whistler's own Brandon Semenuk captured a silver medal.

ESPN was considering Whistler as a host for one of the three new X Games events, as the resort was included on a shortlist of nine cities vying to welcome one of the new multi-sport competitions. Had Whistler been selected, the annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival was due to be replaced by a new event known as X Fest in 2013 and beyond.

The global expansion series was supposed to last for three years. However, it became apparent that financial challenges were hampering the new events in the lead-up to the first one in Brazil in April, when leaked memos indicated that ESPN was asking employees to cut costs wherever possible, while ESPN officials were expressing difficulty attracting sponsorship dollars in the new markets.

The Winter X Games will still be staged in Aspen, Colo., from Jan. 23 to 26, while the traditional X Games will go ahead in Austin, Texas next year as planned.