‘Jibbing sets sail in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

‘Jibbing sets sail in Aspen

Instead of spandex-clad racers, chanting Austrians and cow bells, Ajax was witness to a new-school exhibition of baggy-pant jibbers, worshiping fans and punk music during this Thanksgiving weekend.

The World Cup skipped Aspen this year, opening the door for the Aspen Skiing Co.’s “Thanksjibbing” weekend, the first installment of the season-long Budweiser Hi-Fi Concert Series.

“We wanted to have an event to open the season, something over the Thanksgiving weekend that would be great for the community,” said John Rigney, the Skico’s managing director of event marketing. “You can’t really compare yesterday’s event to a World Cup, but I thought it was outstanding.”

Thanksjibbing kicked off Saturday morning, when the public was invited to ski and ride with members of Team Aspen/Snowmass, which includes Olympian Chris Klug, former world extreme champion Chris Davenport, X Games Superpipe gold medalist Gretchen Bleiler, X Games competitor Steel Spence and J.J. Thomas, an Olympic halfpipe medalist.

In the afternoon, the team members signed autographs in a tent near the gondola while crews put the finishing touches on the wall-ride course and music stage ” the event’s main attractions.

An estimated 3,500 people attended the “jibbing” display Saturday night, which featured two ramps built of snow set against a 26-foot wall at the base of Aspen Mountain. Skiers and snowboarders rode down the bottom of Little Nell, caught air off one of the ramps, grinded against the wall and attempted to land back at the base of the wall.

Several competitors took hard falls at the base, while others seemed to disappear into thin air.

The band, Fingertight, from California, played throughout the competition from an elevated stage at the top of the wall. While most competitors grinded across the wall or the rail at the top, one skier and one snowboarder caught air off the ramp, flew above the wall and landed onstage, out of view. Both were intentional tricks.

“I though it was cool, an impressive setup with good riding,” said Klug, who was traveling to Sweden for a World Cup event Sunday afternoon. “I saw a few wipeouts, and I was like, ‘I’m glad I’m not doing this.'”

Avery Karas, who was born in Aspen and works on a terrain park crew at Buttermilk, won the snowboarding segment of the competition, while Team Aspen/Snowmass member Peter Olenick of Carbondale won the skiing portion.

Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said the event was a big hit.

“We couldn’t have been happier, the competition was unbelievable,” he said. “We saw a big crowd, a good flow of people all night long.

“That was a neat thing to see all the kids out there, with big mouths dropped open staring at these guys.”

Hanle said the event didn’t just attract young fans, as there were “kids, grown-ups, jibbers and people in fur coats.”

Despite the absence of World Cup, Hanle said skier visits at Aspen were up over last year’s numbers during Thanksgiving.

But some were still unhappy about the loss of World Cup.

“It sucks,” said Kevin Willson, who owns the Weinerstrube Restaurant. “Losing any event, especially World Cup, is not good for the town.”

Klug said losing World Cup was a shame, but Thanksjibbing was just another event that could only help the town.

“It’s tough ” World Cup is such a great tradition,” Klug said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t have it, but it was for no lack of effort on the Skico’s part.

“This was a different kind of event, the weather cooperated, and the music and action combined for a really good show ” I certainly had a lot of fun.”

Tyler Stevens, 14, of Basalt said he and his friends preferred Thanksjibbing to World Cup “because we get to mingle with the natives, the pros.”

And some local competitors couldn’t care less about the absence of World Cup.

“This is the stuff we need, not the FIS-type crap,” said Doran Laybourn, a Team Aspen/Snowmass member.

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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