Athletes return to Buttermilk for Rev Tour, start of busy stretch of comps for Aspen
Aspen has become the center of the freeski and snowboard universe this season, as just about every remaining major competition will be held at Buttermilk Ski Area in the coming weeks. This cycle begins Monday with the Aspen Snowmass Open, which this year is a Revolution Tour stop.
“It will certainly be a spectacular show,” said Aspen Skiing Co.’s Tyler Lindsay, one of the main organizers of this week’s event. “There is a ton of really pent-up, athletic ambition out there. People are really eager to show the new tricks they’ve been developing over this long quarantine and get back to that awesome, nervous, start-gate feeling.”
Contests have been limited this winter, almost to the point of being non-existent. Outside of a couple random World Cups and of course ESPN’s Winter X Games, held at Buttermilk late last month, there haven’t been many chances for athletes at any level to competitively drop into a halfpipe or take to a slopestyle course.
This week’s Rev Tour stop will be a rare and important chance to do just that this season. Formerly billed as the Aspen Freeskiing Open, Skico partnered with U.S. Ski & Snowboard to bring the FIS-level event to Buttermilk. Usually part of the North American Cup tour, the Aspen Open means a bit more this winter because of the lack of competitions.
“For the last several years, the Aspen Snowmass Freeskiing Open has been just that, kind of the last great open freeskiing competition standing,” Lindsay said. “And this year, we partnered up with USSA and brought the Revolution Tour here, which brought back snowboarders.”
The athletes competing this week at Buttermilk will range from younger teens just trying to get their foot in the door to those already with a handful of World Cup starts — and possibly X Games starts — under their belt. For at least the U.S. athletes, the Rev Tour serves as a qualifier into the Grand Prix events, including the one Buttermilk will host later next month after the rescheduled world championships come to Aspen.
“Because there is a lot of international-level eagerness to compete, we are going to have higher point totals on the line than might normally be seen at the freeskiing open,” Lindsay said. “The Revolution Tour serves as a qualification series for the World Cup, at least as far as U.S. athletes are concerned. There are a lot of athletes that are eager to get that bump up to the World Cup level.”
Much like X Games, this week’s Revolution Tour event won’t be open to public spectating because of the ongoing pandemic. The general competition venue won’t be accessible, although Buttermilk will remain open to general skiing and snowboarding.
The first competition will be Monday’s ski slopestyle events for both men and women. The men’s and women’s halfpipe skiing competitions are Tuesday, while ski big air and snowboard slopestyle are Wednesday. The week wraps up with snowboard halfpipe on Thursday and snowboard big air on Friday. Qualifying and finals take place on the same day for each of the events.
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