A Report From the X Games on Caleb Moore’s Ill-Fated Snowmobile Jump

Caleb Moore at the Aspen X Games, on a practice jump the day of his crash. Photo by John Bowden

With two local kids participating in the X Games, we sent photographer John Bowden to Aspen to document Caleb and Colton Moore’s snowmobiling. Both brothers were badly injured on the same jump. Colton broke his pelvis. Caleb didn’t survive his injuries. Here is John’s report:

I’d been at the snowmobile competition facility, which was located at the base of Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, all afternoon. From, say 2:30 to 6:30. The competition started at 7. The snowmobile crowd is more like a NASCAR crowd, a very different scene than the ski and snowboarding scene. The pit area was loud, like the pits at a dirt track. You don’t get that on television. You also can’t appreciate the height of the jumps, or the length. The 100-foot gap was huge. These are heavily modified machines. Rocket ships. I was tense the whole time I watched. Everyone was. The whole crowd sighed a sigh of relief every time sometime landed safely. We all knew that if something bad happened, it was gonna be real bad.

When the competition started, I was moving to the Moore brothers’ trailer in the pits. I was going to meet their publicist, Chelsea Lawson, about my interview with Caleb and Colton the next morning. Caleb was the first rider on the course. I heard everyone say, “Oh, oh, oh.” People were standing on the tops of trailers, watching. Everyone had their hands on their heads. It got really quiet. Snowmobile riders are like bull riders; they’re supposed to pop up. And Caleb did. He crashed on one of the smaller jumps. Colton crashed on the same jump. It was tricky. All throughout the day, people had been having trouble with their speed. It was second in a series of three jumps. It was apparently very difficult to get the speed right. Riders either under- or over-rotated. It was the only jump on the course that you had to hit very quickly after landing the previous jump.

After Caleb got up and walked off, we all thought he was okay. It was Colton who we thought was really injured. We all know now that that was not the case.