Skico hopes to butter its bread with Spring Jam |

Skico hopes to butter its bread with Spring Jam

Brent Gardner-Smith

Colorado’s biggest resorts are competing throughout the first two weeks of April to attract youthful skiers and riders with on-snow competitions, music, wacky events, parties, and discount lift and lodging packages. And Aspen Skiing Co.’s “Spring Jam” event has a lineup at least as strong as the state’s other big spring ski festivals, including Copper Mountain’s “Sunstation Celebration,” Breckenridge’s “Spring Massive Festival” and Vail’s “Revolution Spring.” “We are working to put on a high-quality event that gets people’s attention, that makes people want to get in a car and drive past all our competitors,” said John Rigney, the Skico’s director of special events. “For the next two weekends, there is going to be a fusion of core action sports, music and nightlife.” If it sounds a bit like the X Games, well, it is. “I think Spring Jam, much like the X Games and the Rail Revolution [the rail slide event in The Little Nell plaza], is helping to create and reinforce an edgy, exciting image for Aspen, one that appeals to kids, athletes, industry influencers and our guests,” Rigney said. (The Skico and ESPN are still trying to work out a deal to bring the X Games to Buttermilk again next season.) This is the third year that the Skico has held a Spring Jam event, and this one stands out with the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix event, which includes end-of-season finals in boardercross, alpine racing and halfpipe. It will be shown on ESPN on Monday, April 14, at 2 p.m.The boardercross finals were held Thursday at Buttermilk (see story on page A12).The slalom and parallel giant slalom races will be held today and Saturday at Aspen Highlands, with the final runs starting at noon. Chris Klug, an Olympic bronze medalist from Aspen, is expected to compete in both events at Highlands. On Sunday, Gretchen Bleiler of Snowmass Village will compete in the halfpipe event at Buttermilk at 2 p.m.She’ll be trying to repeat her gold-medal run at the ESPN X Games here earlier this winter and cap a stellar season of competition by taking home the title of U.S. national champion and the keys to a new Chevy truck. After the halfpipe event, the Vandals, a punk-rock band from Orange County, Calif., will play a free show at the base of Buttermilk. In addition to the formal snowboard competitions, the “KickAspen” snowboard big-air event will be held Saturday on Little Nell from 3 to 6 p.m.This event has traditionally attracted big enthusiastic crowds, and this year’s beer garden setup should prompt a similar level of response as snowboarders huck themselves off the big jump at the base of Ajax. Next Saturday, April 12, there will be a second KickAspen big-air event, this one for skiers. Locals Steele Spence and Peter Olenick are expected to compete.That event will be filmed by Poor Boyz Productions, which is now the No. 1 ski movie distributor in the United States. Their camera crews will also be on hand for a halfpipe session with skiers on Sunday, April 13, at the Snowmass Ski Area. And on Sunday, April 6, the “Dash for Cash” event will be held on Ajax from noon to 1 p.m. The event features a crazed group of skiers running, skiing and jostling their way toward a babe in a bikini waiting to give $5,000 to the first person down and $2,500 to the first team down. (Don’t get in the way.) New this year to Spring Jam is a Saturday-night pub crawl on April 5 through downtown Aspen, with stops at NXT (the old Chelsea), Shooters, Bentley’s, Eric’s, the Red Onion and Mecca. The Skico says a pub crawl is a new event here this year that grew out of focus groups conducted with college-age kids from the valley and the Front Range. They were asked what would be fun for them to do while here for a spring festival. Surprise! Drinking beer was on their list. “If they’re coming to Aspen/Snowmass for a long weekend, they want to be able to take in as much of the world-famous nightlife that Aspen has to offer in one shot,” Rigney said. The pub crawl will include discount Bud and Bud Light, and patrons who collect a string of beads at each stop will get prizes at the last bar of the night. A similar pub crawl in Snowmass Village will be held Sunday, April 13. Tonight, Spring Jam will continue to try and break new ground with a party at NXT featuring lasers, lights, body paint, go-go dancers and professional guest DJs. The party starts around 10:30 p.m. and has a “chrome” theme. And as Aspen parties hard this April, it certainly won’t be alone. Copper’s “Sunstation” event on April 11-13 will include a reggae concert by Toots and the Maytals and the punk bands Riddlin Kids and MXPX. It will also feature an Eenie Weenie Bikini Contest. Vail’s “Spring Back to Vail” event this weekend will include a “Big Air & Log Jam” event as well as the “World Pond Skimming Championships.” The following weekend, April 19-20, Vail’s “Revolution Spring” will include a motorcycle big-air event, a snowmobile racing event, and a slew of live concerts.