Much has been said over the last few months regarding the changing standards for entry into this years Winter X Games, to be held in Aspen from January 29  February 1, 2005. The majority of the curiosity stems from rumours that placement in previous X-Qualifiers will not guarantee a spot in this years event.

ESPNs Melissa Gullotti had this to say about the qualification process: It's important to note that X Games events have always been invitation only . Invitation committees for each sport determine the athletes who will be invited to compete at Winter X Games Nine. Each sport is unique; therefore, the invitation criteria will vary per sport like they have over the past nine years. The key difference between this year and past years is we will not take results from a specific event to qualify for an invitation. However, in the deciding process, event results will be strongly considered. For the most part, the same invitation procedures will be in place.

So it looks as though those that were counting on spots based on last years qualifiers will need to continue to kill it in the eyes of the invitation committee to make sure that theyre one of the 20 athletes chosen to compete in both Slopestyle and Superpipe.

Speaking of Superpipe, the event will again be broadcast live on ESPN as well as online  great news for the nerd set. Perhaps worthy of its own article, there will in fact be a womens division at this years X. Thats right, 8 invited ladies will duke it out in a half-hour jam session. Although it doesnt have a dedicated live timeslot on ESPN you should be able to check out coverage on the EXPN website, and of course right here on NS.