The 2017 Winter X Games’ Guest Services team received the unique opportunity to step foot into the pipe, where major skiing and snowboarding events take place.

Embracing the ‘Hospitality High’

Those of us in event management thrive on what we call the ‘hospitality high.’ —Karyn Kiio

Students gain real-world experience at X Games

By Katelyn Crain | Communications Specialist

This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 edition of Ferris Magazine.

It was the 2017 Winter X Games, but snowboarding was the last thing on the minds of Hospitality Management professors Amy Dorey and Karyn Kiio, and the students who travelled to the extreme sports event in Aspen, Colorado, to gain real-world experience in late January.

For five days straight, Dorey, Kiio and 13 students from six College of Business programs, including Hospitality Management, Communications, Music Industry Management, Public Relations, Marketing, and Television and Digital Media Production, worked an average of 16 to 18 hours per day, in effort to ensure the ESPN-hosted event, which drew more than 50,000 spectators, ran smoothly.

Students were responsible for participating in guest services, event management and hospitality assignments. Specifically, some of their primary duties were handing ingress and egress, which involved moving thousands of people from one place to another while dealing with environmental factors and weather conditions, as well as other challenging aspects such as trip hazards and temporary scaffolding.

“Those of us in event management thrive on what we call the ‘hospitality high.’ This is the feeling you get when you’re in the middle of a demanding and exciting event, using all of your guest service, critical thinking and problem solving skills. It’s truly an adrenaline rush,” said Kiio. “So when a student goes to X Games, we witness the most fierce dedication and passion that we’ve seen, because it throws them into the depths of everything they’ll experience as professionals. You have to love the grind and you must have an internal reserve, because after 12 hours of high-impact demands, everyone hits a wall. Our students break through that wall, clutch to that hospitality high and push forward for the benefit of our guests to provide an awesome guest experience.”


Through immersion in industry and the challenge of transitioning theory into practice, Ferris graduates students into professionals. —Amy Dorey

In order to prepare for the mental, emotional and physical rigor necessary to succeed in the intensive work environment at the X Games, Dorey and Kiio led students in training for four months before the event.

Training included discussions on the physical impact of altitude sickness and elevation, getting students to commit to a workout plan to ensure they are able to endure the physical demand, as well as having the students become experts on specific pieces of the event and building a website as a team to be used as a resource prior to attending the event. Additionally, students received a significant amount of safety training to ensure athletes and guests are protected, and situations like those that involve trampling are avoided or handled quickly and effectively.

This was Ferris’ third time working at the X Games, and the partnership between Ferris and ESPN is expected to continue. Not only does this event provide hands-on learning opportunities to students, but it is a platform for future internship and career opportunities.

“X Games has allowed our students and our institution to broaden our reach and provide recognition of Ferris as a key component of this event,” said Dorey. “X Games is a global leader in international extreme sporting competitions, and ESPN’s strong reputation for excellence and opportunity aligns directly with Ferris’ core values. This overlap provides a strategic and meaningful learning-in-action program which illustrates what we do at Ferris every day. Through immersion in industry and the challenge of transitioning theory into practice, Ferris graduates students into professionals.”

To see the original article and read about other interesting things students are doing, visit

To read the original new release on this event, visit