X Games host Selema Masekela leads the introductory press conference on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, at Buttermilk Ski Area.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
As X Games enters its 23rd year in Aspen, Selema Masekela, a veteran action sports journalist and host, is set to start a fresh position as its Chief of Sports Culture.
Masekela, who previously hosted X Games for an impressive 13-year period from 1999 to 2012, marked his return to the event in 2023, this time taking on the dual roles of host and consulting producer. And now he’s secured three more years with the action sports event.
In fall 2022, X Games switched to new ownership. MSP Sports Capital took over the reins of the X Games brand from ESPN and Disney. Since then, adjustments have been made to the brand and its seasonal events, including the legacy winter spectacle headquartered at Aspen’s Buttermilk Ski Area.
He said he believes the time is right for him to take on this position and believes he is the ideal candidate for the job.
“It’s a bit surreal, especially for a kid who came to X Games for his first time as a sideline reporter in 1999.” – Selema Masekela
“It’s a bit surreal, especially for a kid who came to X Games for his first time as a sideline reporter in 1999,” he said. “It’s the right time for me. I have the relationships, I have the trust of the athletes, and I have the experience, and I hope that I can help the powers that be at X Games.”
As part of the three-year deal, Masekela’s responsibilities will involve delving into the cultural landscape of action sports. Emphasizing the significance of culture for the exposure of both X Games and action sports in general, he reiterated its importance.
“Just to remember that at the end of the day, without the culture, we have nothing, so that’s what I’m here for,” he said.
X Games host Selema Masekela reflects on his new role after leading the introductory press conference on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, at Buttermilk Ski Area.Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
X Games host Selema Masekela talks to reporters during the introductory press conference on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, at Buttermilk Ski Area.Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
“It’s really making sure that we are listening to the athletes primarily and how we are driving and shaping the events, building new events, how we present them — without them we don’t really have anything. I think it’s leveraging our star power,” he said.
He worked hard to always be part of the sports world. Before becoming a broadcaster, he sold snowboard magazines — and skateboards — and then eventually made it to a mic to sell people stories.
Masekela, who is 52, came late to snowboarding, but once he did, it was a life-changer.
While all of his cohorts were “way better” than him – and Masekela spent plenty of time “playing catch up” – snowboarding proved to be life-changing.
“So for me, I just wanted to stay as close to what I loved as possible,” he said. “And what I could do really good, better than everyone else, was talk.”
It could be said that this is a natural role for the son of South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela.
X Games host Selema Masekela poses for a photo in front of the halfpipe after the introductory press conference on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, at Buttermilk Ski Area.Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times
Masekela’s career has spanned a variety of winter and summer sports, including the NBA, surfing, and the “Vice World Of Sports,” and finds his work continues to give back to that one-time, starry-eyed teen.
From there, he knew “I was just never getting a real job, I’m staying as close to this as possible. So here we are, 30 years later, (the) little kid is still here.”
X Games Aspen 2024 opens Friday for a three-day run at Buttermilk.