X Games Research Manager Vince Castellanos couldn’t be happier with the swirl of excitement surrounding this year’s X Games Aspen competition, which airs Thursday through Sunday on various ESPN platforms.
As he and his staff work diligently to “generate just about every piece of information about X Games athletes,” the tension is palpable — in a good way.
“We get information from all corners of X Games; we encourage departments to send us news,” Castellanos says. “Our staff interviews virtually every athlete attending X Games and compiles profiles that we use to make sure our audience comes to know everything about the athletes.”
Castellanos, who has worked on the X Games since 1999, says about 155 athletes will participate this year across the various sports. In the course of collecting background, the research effort takes on a greater significance.
“Each sport has a dedicated researcher and during the events our core researchers sit with television talent to give them fresh information,’’ he says. “We also write detailed recaps of practices and events in a continuous effort to update historical documents and to provide reference material for content producers across our media platforms.”
Castellanos is well aware of the exponential growth of X Games’ popularity. He started as a snowmobile researcher 14 years ago, covered additional events along the way and became the full-time research manager in 2009.
“Seeing our stories come to life is a thrill. There’s an adrenaline rush of being on live TV and it is always fun to be in the middle of a live production,” he says. “And you know that people out there are enjoying it.”
He’s also quick to credit his staff.
“They are the ones out there on foot doing all the hard work. In most cases, they follow their sports year-round, and they begin working on X Games more than two months before an event,” he says.
“They are an experienced crew and it shows in the final product. Also, we’ve been fortunate to have support from Production Research; they’ve been generous with time and resources, and their contributions have improved our product.”
A version of this post originally appeared on ESPN’s internal blog, In The Know (ITK).