Aspen Open draws big air, small crowds
Competitors were throwing down big tricks at the Aspen/Snowmass Open Saturday, but there weren’t many people out to see them. It looked like there were actually more kids in ski school at Buttermilk than there were in the bleachers at the bottom of the superpipe. “I thought there would be more people,” said Brodie Craig, the marketing manager for Snowboarder Magazine, who was tending a booth at the event. “It’s the first year, so you never know how things like this can grow. We want to support the riders.”That’s basically what it was all about – the competitors. Down at the base, where the Nissan booths were handing out S’mores, most of the people getting marshmallows and sitting in lawn chairs were snowboarders or skiers in the event. “It’s awesome,” said snowboarder and Snowmass Village native Jordie Karlinski. “It’s a good event for up-and-comers.”As she put it, the event is the perfect way to bridge the gap between pro events like the X Games or a Grand Prix and amateur events like USASA Nationals. The $30,000 in prize money was extra incentive for up-and-comers to show up. Karlinski is 16; one of the men’s snowboarding finalists, Matt Ladley, is just 14. “He’s competing against guys that weigh 160 pounds while he only weighs 90,” said Ashley Berger, a coach from the Steamboat Springs Winter Club.Ladley recently came back from the Junior World Championships in Korea. He didn’t place, but made a good impression on U.S. Snowboarding coaches.”I’m not riding too well in practice,” he said before his run on Saturday. “I’ll step it up in competition.” True to his word, Ladley placed fourth in the superpipe, going up against a lot of older kids. “He’s so good,” said Berger, “but he’s so little.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite being a big star, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen has frequently connected with the young AVSC athletes while training at Aspen Highlands over the years.