From Hospital Bed To Host Chair – Hosting X Games Is “Full Circle” Moment For SportsCenter’s Victoria Arlen
Arlen: "X Games is all about defying the odds and turning something that was once impossible into possible, and that's obviously been the story of my life and my journey."
As a child, Victoria Arlen was a fan of the X Games and always watched the ESPN telecasts with her three brothers.
She later watched them from her hospital bed while fighting for her life, battling and recovering from Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis.
Unfortunately, those rare conditions left her in a vegetative state for four years. The 30 for 30 Short “Locked In” explores her journey.
Things have changed significantly for her: Arlen will be co-hosting ESPN and ABC’s coverage of X Games Aspen, which gets underway Friday. Arlen and Selema Masekela will bring viewers three days of action sports coverage from Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen (Colo.) Snowmass. They hosted a preview show this past weekend.
“It’s a complete full-circle moment,” said Arlen, who joined ESPN in December 2015 as a features reporter and now works as a studio host for SportsCenter and several other ESPN programs.
She has a remarkable story of overcoming adversity, including regaining the ability to walk after 10 years in a wheelchair.
“X Games Aspen was one of the first events I covered when I signed my first contract with ESPN,” she said. “I wasn’t walking yet, so I was still navigating the world with a wheelchair and crutches. To go from that to now is something that is completely surreal and something my family still can’t seem to wrap their heads around.
“X Games is all about defying the odds and turning something that was once impossible into possible, and that’s obviously been the story of my life and my journey,” she said. “To now be hosting is meaningful for me in more ways than one. It’s an incredible and iconic sporting event. I’m really excited.”
She looks forward to the X Games competition.
“The courses are bigger and better than ever, and there are going to be a lot of athletes just absolutely bringing it,” she said. “And it’s X Games, so you know it will be epic.”
Perhaps most meaningful of all to her, her parents will be joining her in Aspen.
“They never gave up on me, even when the doctors told them I was a lost cause and to say goodbye and that if I did survive, I’d never amount to anything or ever recover,” she said. “So it’s super special to have them with me.
“They were the first people I called when I found out I’d be the host,” she said. “I couldn’t tell anyone, but I was allowed to tell them.”