Time to take a serious look
Caleb Moore, the 25-year-old who died Thursday as the result of injuries suffered in an X-Games snowmobile crash Sunday in Aspen, Colo., undoubtedly knew the risks inherent in his sport. Prior to the race that led to his death, he told the New York Times that he had suffered 10 concussions - a record that probably would have made him ineligible to play in the National Football League.
Mr. Moore originally was diagnosed with a concussion after he under-rotated his snowmobile while flipping it off a jump. He vaulted over the handlebars and the 450-pound vehicle tumbled onto him as he lay in the snow. It turned out that Mr. Moore had suffered massive internal injuries that caused his death.
The death was the first in the 18-year history of the winter X-Games, which feature a variety of dare-devil exploits by remarkably talented athletes on skis, snowboards and snowmobiles. But the games regularly feature a ghastly roster of ghastly injuries, such as the separated pelvis suffered by Colton Moore, Caleb Moore's brother, in the same event.
During the same X-Games, Halldor Helgason of Iceland suffered a concussion in the snowboard big-air competition, and Rose Battersby of New Zealand sustained a lumbar spine fracture in a wipeout during practice before the skiing slopestyle competition.
Speed and the human body don't mix well and even conventional sports are dangerous. A luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia was killed while practicing during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, for example.
But the whole point of the X-Games is extreme competition - competition that seems to expand the envelope year after year. Like the body itself, that envelope can go only so far. It's time for the X-Games, and the states that host the events, to have a serious conversation about that line.