X Games is back with more attractions

Chris Juhn/MSR News Gravity-defying stunts are a common sight at X Games.

X Games Minneapolis 2019 returns for its third straight summer this week. Most of the scheduled events will take place in or around the Vikings’ downtown stadium — Mykel Larrin (Racine, Wis.) is expected again to compete in BMX (dirt, Big Air and Park) competition among the domestic and global contingent of X Games athletes.

X Fest will feature interactive courses, athlete meet and greets and other activities beginning Thursday at 5 pm. The festivities are free to the public. Fans also can see Moto X Step Up and Special Olympics Unified BMX Racing competitions as well.

Works of several local visual artists will also be on display at the exhibit, including large scale exhibitions: Minneapolis’ Hot Tea will bring his eight-foot steel installation specifically created for X Games for the second straight year. World of X Games Presents Zoom, an action sports photography exhibit, will also be back.

Several “Community Days” also are scheduled:

Thursday – Downtown Neighborhoods Day: Ward 3 residents will be able to check out X Fest at 4 pm, an hour before its scheduled 5 pm opening.

Friday – Cedar-Riverside Day: 3,000 general admission tickets will be made available to Ward 6 residents.

Saturday – Women’s Day: The first 300 women who attend X Fest will receive gift bags to celebrate women in action sports.

Sunday – Marvel Day: Fans can wear their favorite Marvel gear to X Games. Other X Fest activities include an obstacle course, a three-story Slingshot Slide, the Minnesota Wild Ice Rink, BMX Pump Track, a first-time electric bike course, and a mountain bike track.

The first-ever EXP Invitational featuring 20 squads of three are competing in 12 matches for a total prize purse of $150,000 at the Vikings stadium August 2 and 3. This is part of a newly created esports event series that kicked off in May.

NCHC update

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) will kick off its seventh season this fall. The 2018-19 season was a recognized success, including Minnesota Duluth successfully defending its National Championship, marking a fourth straight NCHC school to win the NCAA title.

During its annual Board of Directors meeting in May with member presidents, athletic directors, and faculty athletics representations (FARs) in Colorado Springs, a variety of topics were discussed, including a review of the 2018-19 season, and possible changes for the future. The NCHC’s “Focus for The Future” blueprint has several components:

Student-Athlete Experience: A task force was established to review and address various student-athlete well-being issues and topics. It is chaired by NCHC Commissioner Doug Fenton and composed of a school president/chancellor, athletic directors, FARs and coaches.

The NCHC continues to support schools hiring three full-time assistant coaches or allow coaching duties to the director of operations — currently, under NCAA rules, only two full-time assistant coaches are allowed in college hockey.  A third coach would provide more support for practices– especially when coaches may be on the road recruiting — as well as an additional resource for student-athlete development.

An international showcase event at some point in the future is being explored.

Competition: a 24-game conference schedule will continue for at least two more seasons; the 3-on-3 overtime/sudden death shootout model will continue to be used for conference games that are still tied following 5-on-5 overtime in 2019-20; exploring different possibilities to serve as a host for a future NCAA Frozen Four; looking into involving media in year-end award voting —currently only head coaches vote on NCHC year-end playing awards; weighing the possibility of upgrading technology within each league venue to improve the video review process for technicians, officials, and supervisors.

The NCHC drops the puck on season number seven on October 5.