Yesterday's death of snowmobiler Caleb Moore as the result of a crash at the X-Games in Aspen has led to grief on the part of his family and friends, as well as debate about his sport of choice.
Among the most prominent critics of the event: Tony Kornheiser of ESPN, the network that sponsors the X-Games.
After Moore passed away yesterday morning, ESPN issued the following statement:
We are deeply saddened by Caleb Moore's passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Wade and Michelle, his brother, Colten, and the entire Moore family. He will be remembered for his natural passion for life and his deep love for his family and friends, and he will always be an inspiration to everyone he touched in the action sports community.
Caleb Moore in an image from his Facebook page.
As a result of this accident we will conduct a thorough review of this discipline and adopt any appropriate changes to future X Games.
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. Caleb was a four-time X Games medalist attempting a move he has landed several times previously.
As you can see, the network is trying to have it both ways in the comment -- promising an investigation of the snowmobile competition, but suggesting that the dangers associated with the X-Games are similar to those in other sports -- and adding that the trick that severely injured and later killed him (he came off the snowmobile, which then landed on him) was nothing out of the ordinary.
Kornheiser isn't buying it, though, despite collecting a hefty ESPN paycheck. While other segments about Moore on the network yesterday mostly stuck to eulogizing, with frequent mentions of the statement above, the discussion about the topic between Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on yesterday's edition of Pardon the Interruption was harder hitting. Kornheiser argued that snowmobiles simply aren't designed to fly through the air in the way the competition demands, likening the result to stunts like jumping a motorcycle over a row of buses. Moreover, he feels the potential problems are only compounded by the requirement that riders leave the snowmobile's seat to do twists, turns and more.
Wilbon didn't echo these observations, bringing up examples such as divers who die or are severely injured when they hit their head on the board after an acrobatic maneuver. But Kornheiser stood firm, saying flatly that since "ESPN owns that event," the network should "get rid of this competition."
Will the network do so? Doubtful -- but with even in-house pundits like Kornheiser arguing for such action, major changes could be in the offing.
Look below to see one of Moore's final interviews, standing alongside brother Colten, who also suffered an injury (he separated his pelvis) during the X-Games.
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More from our Sports archive: "Caleb Moore dies after X-Games crash in Aspen, first casualty in event's history."