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INSIDE THE X GAMES

Jeffrey Sadis got to the Aspen/Snowmass Buttermilk mountain four days before the X Games, the day athlete registration started.

"I picked up my credentials and then went and got my tuning area. I just wanted to get it done before all the crazyness starts," he says.

Sadis is a World Cup and Olympic ski tech. He will tune skis for skier/snowboard X athletes Cody Smith, Mille Francon, forerunner Marguerite Thorp, three Swiss snowboarders and the Czech national Snowboarder X champion. Sadis may pick up some more halfpipe athletes just to make some extra money. He charges $100 a day, plus 10 per cent of whatever his athletes win. But as as every athlete knows, a good tech is definitely worth a cut.

After finding his assigned room and setting out his equipment, Sadis went to the finish area of the ski cross to watch the final shaping and grooming of the finish. "It's pretty big. the flight from the jump will be about 120 feet long, and it's about 15 feet in the air. They are using a winch cat and a regular grooming machine for the last touches," he says.

He goes on to describe the scene: "There was some halfpipe training going on today. All the typical suspects were there. I saw Simon Dumont lurking around there. A lot of the younger guys were just trying to get a feel for the place, they weren't going that big, they were just trying to get used to it."

Sadis' "shop" room is in a good spot. "The Canadian skicross team is in the room on my left, the Solomon International team to my right, and the U. S. snowboard team is across the hall from me," he says.

The tuning rooms are a kind of hangout for the athletes, and the cold, dank basement rooms are a social center; with techs and athletes wandering back and forth for impromptu parties. A tech will be prepping skis or a board, working hard while laughing and joking with a crowd in his room.

Sadis has one problem, though. The prep rooms are not heated. He has no heater, and he's freezing. He goes over to the Solomon room to warm up when his fingers get too cold. But nothing stops him from working.

"My athletes arrive tomorrow, and I want them to be ready to get on snow so they can go out and see the hill. I'm super excited to get going on this thing. It's not the first time I've been here, but I want to come away with some medals this time," Sadis says.

Last year, Brett Buckles and Stanley Hayer were among his X athletes. Buckles came in 7th, Hayer was 5th.

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