Every medal is created by hand with largely recycled materials

Austin Colbert

Lisa Issenberg works on the X Games Aspen medals in her Ridgway studio. Photo courtesy of Eve Melmon.

The X Games medals are meant to be special. They are awarded to athletes who achieve a feat that stands apart in his or her sport, an accomplishment that likely took years to reach.

Colorado artist Lisa Issenberg understands the responsibility that comes with making such a prize.

“The end result just needs to be a significant award for the incredible athletes who have worked perhaps a whole lifetime to make it onto the podium,” Issenberg said. “I definitely don’t take it lightly. It’s a grand task to produce something that incorporates a large organization’s branding and to do that in style with beauty and depth and heft. I want to give it my all.”

Issenberg, who operates out of her Ridgway studio, dubbed Kiitellä — Finnish for “to thank, applaud, or praise” — was first brought on by X Games in 2020 to make their highly sought after medals. The partnership went so well that ESPN’s Brian Kerr, their associate director of competition for X Games who oversees the medals, brought Issenberg back into the fold for X Games Aspen 2021, which takes place Friday through Sunday at Buttermilk Ski Area.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with such a creative visionary, local artist. We really appreciate and share her values,” Kerr said. “Her environmentally-sound practices line up with our X Games sustainability program, and we love that our X Games Aspen medals are designed and brought to life right here in her studio in the great state of Colorado.”

Every medal Issenberg makes is created by hand with largely recycled materials and limited to no excess waste. She created her company with the intent of making awards and has a clientele that includes Aspen Skiing Co. — she’s long made the Power of Four medals — the Birds of Prey World Cup ski races at Beaver Creek, and The North Face, among many others.

Issenberg uses a minimalist design philosophy in her work — drawing inspiration from Bauhaus as well as the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi, which essentially is the acceptance of imperfection. The design she used on this year’s X Games medals is certainly different from a year ago, but still has the same familiar feel.

“It’s a fresh new design, but you can tell they came out of the same studio and by the same hands,” Issenberg said. “Every project is a new design challenge and I never know if I’m going to get it right. Like a painter or writer, you can’t know if or when a piece is complete. But if you keep the pencil moving, the final design surfaces like a haiku and you know that’s it.”

Not only is Issenberg responsible for making the main X Games medals, but she also made this year’s Knuckle Huck rings, two of which go to the winner of each contest. On top of that, she made this year’s Real Series medals — ESPN’s ski, snowboard and mountain bike film competition — as well as its Rocket League medals, a virtual competition based off the popular video game.

For X Games Aspen 2020, Issenberg created nearly 100 medals, but that number was cut dramatically this year as the coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the event.

Courtesy photos of the X Games Aspen 2021 Knuckle Huck rings, created by Ridgway artist Lisa Issenberg. 

“I’ve listened to a few athletes talk about some of their competitions being canceled, but X Games, the ones that can still be involved this year look forward to it and have to train with a goal in mind,” Issenberg said. “It was really beautiful to see the creativity that came out of the pandemic. At first everything just shut down and it was a bit of a panic. And then, bit-by-bit, you see organizations popping up and saying, ‘Well, let’s just remake what we can with what we have.’”

X Games has certainly been remade because of the pandemic. In 2021, it won’t include any of the motorsports, such as snowmobiling, any of the concerts or any of the spectators. Roughly 100 athletes were invited to take part in the 14 skiing and snowboarding events.

That however, is at the heart of Winter X Games. The athlete lineup still includes the sport’s best — from Chloe Kim to Shaun White to hometown hero Alex Ferreira — and remains a focal point for professional skiers and snowboarders.

Winning an X Games medal is hardly about the medal, but the medal is representative of a great achievement, by both artist and athlete alike.

“This is art at its finest,” Kerr said. “We are stepping into 2021 to try and get back to having some fun again. We are looking to bring some X Games light to clear away the COVID fog. We are all looking forward now, not back. We are hopeful our athletes can come together and thrive at X Games weekend.”


Andy Borowitz

January 25, 2021

Rudy Giuliani making a disgruntled face
Photograph by Rey Del Rio / Getty
  • WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Responding to Dominion Voting Systems’ huge defamation lawsuit against him, Rudy Giuliani said that he would not be able to pay $1.3 billion in damages because he does not know any real billionaires.

“If I knew an actual billionaire, I’d say, ‘Hey, I’m in a tough fix. Can you help me pay off this thing?’ ” Giuliani said. “But I don’t know anyone like that.”

Not only does he not know any actual billionaires, but the people he does know are “just the opposite,” Giuliani said.

“Forget about $1.3 billion,” he scoffed. “They can’t even pay their legal bills.”

The former New York mayor said that, if Dominion wins its case against him, he will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy. “I guess I do know someone who could help me with that,” he said.


In his new book ‘Bear,’ Robert Greenfield goes deep into life of counterculture figure credited with inventing band’s ‘Wall of Sound’


Meet Grateful Dead's Acid Cooker Owsley Stanley III

In 2007, writer Robert Greenfield interviewed Berkeley-dropout-turned-acid-cooker Owsley Stanley III – whose pure, potent LSD was favored by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead – for Rolling Stone. “I had so much material,” says Greenfield. “And I knew that Owsley was a unique individual with a world view that no one else shared.” His original assignment was a life-spanning feature, but his reporting – including interviews with the Dead’s Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and more – eventually provided enough material for an entire book.

The result, Bear: The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III, goes deep inside the chaotic and bizarre life of Owsley, who provided a generation of West-Coast hippies with mind-altering acid, using the profits of his illegitimate business to finance the Grateful Dead into the spotlight. Also a shameless audiophile, Owsley was the band’s original sound man, credited with inventing the famous Wall Of Sound PA system (“It was Owsley’s brain, in material form,” drummer Bill Kreutzmann told Greenfield. “Impossible to tame.”) He also had the bright idea to plug a recorder directly into the soundboard during concerts and rehearsals, thus providing the world with tapes of the Dead during their heyday, which would otherwise never have existed. But beyond his interaction with the band, exploring Stanley’s life also brought Greenfield deep within the counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s, from the Monterey Pop Festival to Altamont to the streets of the Haight.

Owsley was somewhat of an elusive character, surrounded by rumor and hearsay. “So much of what was said about Owsley back in the day was sheer fantasy, that the list of misconceptions would themselves fill an entire book,” says Greenfield. Owsley died in 2011 in a car accident at 76 years old, but he left behind a lifetime’s worth of strange stories and unique anecdotes that sometimes seem too outlandish to be true. For example, Owsley persuaded his girlfriend, a U.C. Berkeley chemistry major, to drop out and make acid with him, and he eluded the law by pretending to run a legitimate lab where he tested rats. He was intelligent and cunning, and to this day, no one can say for certain where he kept all of the money he made from his empire.

The book describes an eccentric genius and master manipulator, and an integral piece of the Grateful Dead’s success. “Due in no small part to the high-quality LSD that Owsley was handing out,” writes Greenfield, “as well as his continuing willingness to bankroll the band with money he made, the scene around the Grateful Dead started to expand at what would soon become an exponential rate.”

But Owlsey’s relationships with the band members were as tumultuous as the rest of his his life, described in Bear in great detail. “There was no one whom he did not drive crazy at one time or another,” Greenfield tells Rolling Stone

“In Jerry Garcia’s words, ‘We’d met Owsley at the Acid Test and he got fixated on us,’” he writes. “‘We had enough acid to blow the world apart… tripping frequently, if not constantly. That got good and weird.’”

Owsley left behind an extensive Grateful Dead material – still used to this day – and died as a singular counterculture figure. “There was virtually nothing that Bear could not do,” says Greenfield.  

Finally, Mitch McConnell is not in control


Even though Sen. McConnell declared on the senate floor that the mob who attacked the Capitol were “provoked by the president,” remember that the former majority leader was the reason former president Donald Trump wasn’t impeached the first time.