Published February 01, 2013
Winter X Games officials said in a statement that they would conduct a thorough review of freestyle snowmobiling events and adopt any appropriate changes following the death of 25-year-old Caleb Moore.
"For 18 years, we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts. Still, when the world's best compete at the highest level in any sport, risks remain," the officials said, noting that Moore was hurt performing a move he had done several times before.
Moore was attempting a backflip in the freestyle event in Aspen last week when the skis on his 450-pound snowmobile caught the lip of the landing area, sending him flying over the handlebars. Moore landed face first into the snow with his snowmobile rolling over him.
Moore stayed down for some time, before walking off with help and going to a hospital to be treated for a concussion. Moore 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.
Colten Moore, Caleb's brother and a fellow snowmobiler was also injured in a separate crash 30 minutes after Caleb, suffering a separated pelvis in the accident.
X Games officials told ESPN that organizers, athletes and course designers would work together to renew safety efforts.
Scott Guglielmino, the network's senior vice president said told ESPN that organizers would "make sure that we take as much risk as we can out of (freestyle snowmobiling,)" the Denver Post reported.
"We are certainly interested in when they become separated from the snowmobile and they go downhill after that – such as Caleb's crash," Guglielmino told ESPN.
"We do not want to see snowmobiles landing on athletes, so that is something that is going to be very much the focus of our review in this instance."
Athletes defending the sport say danger and risk is a part of the trade.
"We've all accepted the risk, and we know what playing the game means," Paul Thacker, an veteran X Games snowmobile racer told the Denver Post.
"I just look at it like this: Yes we're in a dangerous sport," Levi LaValee, a snowmobiler said.
"Anytime you're doing a backflip on anything, it's dangerous. But we're training to do this. This is what we practice, what we do day in and day out. We're comfortable with doing this stuff," he said.
"It doesn't have to be some colossal, crazy crash," Thacker told the Denver Post. "When I hurt myself I didn't even crash."
During training for the the 2011 Winter X Games, Thacker said he "landed funny" and the handlebars crashed into his chest, which caused popped vertebrae in his back which bruised his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic.
The debate over whether extreme sports are too dangerous or extreme is an issue that’s been raised before.
The halfpipe venue came under scrutiny a little more than a year ago when freestyle skier Sarah Burke died in a training accident in Park City. Two years earlier, Kevin Pearce suffered a severe brain injury in a fall in the same pipe as Burke.
Moore, a former all-terrain vehicle racer, switched over to snowmobiles as a teen, and quickly rose to the top of the sport. He won four Winter X Games medals, including a bronze last season, where Colten captured gold.
Moore rehearsed complicated tricks on a snowmobile into a foam pit in his native Texas. It took him two weeks to master a difficult backflip.
B.C. Vaught, his agent said Moore didn't believe his sport was too extreme but thought of it as, "a lifestyle."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.