ASPEN, Colo. (AP) _ For four days, kids with spiked hair, facial piercings and outrageous clothes took over a town known more for its celebrity residents and $10 lattes.
There was plenty of high-flying action on the slopes, wild parties at night and even some public nudity.
In other words, the Winter X Games rocked.
``Aspen has received an automatic vibe transplant,'' said David Perry, senior vice president of the Aspen Skiing Company. ``Aspen is known for its celebrities and its affluent clientele, but I think it needs this. There is a whole new vitality when the Winter X Games are here.''
The Winter X Games started in 1997 at Big Bear Lake, Calif., and they've gotten bigger and badder each year. This year was no different.
A crowd of 36,300 attended last year's games, making it the largest event in the city's history. This year, there were 36,700 fans just in the first three days. Organizers said the final attendance this year was 48,700.
The sponsors in the early days of Winter X were mostly skiing and snowboarding companies, and those with products appealing to the Gen-X crowd. Over the years, more mainstream companies have jumped on for the ride.
This year, companies like Jeep, Sony, Taco Bell and Motorola had tents at the base of the mountain, and their were logos plastered all over the competition areas.
The tricks were more ambitious, too.
Winter X athletes are constantly searching for ways to get higher and more dangerous; many of the winning tricks from previous years wouldn't even get the riders into the finals now.
This year, more moto X riders completed backflips and more women landed 900s on the snowboard superpipe than even before.
``This is the best one yet, without a doubt,'' said Chris Stiepock, general manager of the X Games. ``Eventually, we're going to raise the bar so high that we're not going to be able to cross over it.''
The appeal doesn't seem like it will subside anytime soon.
At the snowboarder X and ski slopestyle finals on Thursday, kids leaned over barriers to get a view and traded high-fives as announcers breathlessly talked about ``rippers'' and ``gnarly'' rides.
On the other side of the slope, an older, NASCAR-type crowd gathered to watch the snowmobile snocross final.
Wearing neon-colored jackets with the logos of their favorite ``sleds,'' fans hooted and hollered as their favorite riders flew as high as 25 feet into the air, or they groaned after a collision caused a ``big unload.''
``We live it, love it and breathe it,'' said Mark Holcomb, who let his two sons skip school to watch the races.
Day Two featured the premier event of Winter X, the snowboard superpipe, and the fans were clearly stoked.
Lining the walls of the pipe's 16-foot high walls, kids with pierced eyebrows and shaggy flap-eared ski hats cheered wildly as the riders soared a dozen feet over their heads.
``There's no doubt this is the best event,'' said 16-year-old Glenn Magano of Longmont, Colo.
He might get an argument from those who turned the moto X big air finals into a near-mosh pit the next day. The crowd was about 20 deep along the sides of the course, while a sea of people gathered behind the landing ramp and up into one of the ski trails.
One group spilled over a nylon fence during the event, then followed gold medalist Mike Metzger to the top of the second ramp after the final run, in a scene reminiscent of ``Rocky.''
``Big props to the Winter X Games!'' Metzger yelled on the medals stand.
Three days of warmth and sunshine gave way to snow and temperatures in the lower 20s on Sunday, but it didn't slow the crowds.
Oblivious to the cold, fans with nose rings and spiked mohawks lined the snowboard slopestyle course while the racing fans _ many in matching racing team jackets _ were back for the snowmobile hillcross.
``It has all the best talent, facilities that no one else has, and it's just a great show,'' said Derek Balmer of Denver.