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Skico is pushing spring party on Aspen Mountain

Brent Gardner-Smith

“Snowboarding on Ajax? Somebody oughta throw a party.”

Well, the Aspen Skiing Co. is, and that’s the message on a postcard being sent out to thousands of Front Range skiers and boarders.

The postcard is just part of a $75,000 marketing effort to promote the “180 Spring Jam” taking place from March 31 to April 15.

The campaign also includes ads in The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, on KBCO in Boulder and other radio stations, on a variety of Web sites, including Travelocity, and on the Weather Channel. It also includes an extensive e-mail campaign to over 150,000 skiers and snowboarders.

The event, sponsored by a new energy drink called “180,” will celebrate the last day of skiing-only on Aspen Mountain on March 31, the first day of snowboarding on Aspen Mountain on April 1 and spring skiing and riding in general.

It will include a series of free afternoon concerts at the base of Ajax next to the gondola, as well as a series of on-mountain events. The Skico is still in the process of getting the necessary special event permits from the city of Aspen.

In all, the Skico plans to spend at least $250,000 putting on and promoting the effort to increase skier and rider traffic the first two weeks of April.

“It’s a significant push,” said Rose Abello, the company’s director of communications. “The whole idea is to end the season with a bang and not with a whimper.”

And a big part of the “Free’d Ajax!” marketing effort is focused on enticing college students in Denver and Boulder to Aspen. “It’s an opportunity to create a buzz,” said Bobbie Burkley, the Skico’s marketing director.

Any season pass holder from any resort, from any year, will be able to buy a lift ticket for $29. Lodging deals, such as a $69 lift and lodging package at the Limelight Lodge in Aspen, will also be available.

The Skico had already planned on putting on an event to boost business in April. Then the company’s owners announced on Jan. 6 that the snowboarding ban on Ajax would be lifted starting April 1.

The Spring Jam event will actually start on March 31, the last day of skiing-only on Aspen Mountain. The day, which for many diehard Ajax skiers will mark the passing of a glorious era, will feature the second Wild Dash for Cash and the KickAspen Big Air.

During the big air event, while both skiers and snowboarders are busy hucking themselves off a huge jump at the base of Little Nell, the bands Souls of Mischief and Cazual will be playing. Other bands playing during the two-week event include Hieroglyphics, Del the Funky Homo Sapien, Pet Love, Slightly Stoopid, Boogie Machine and Shinehead.

On April Fools Day, there will be an opening ceremony to mark the arrival of snowboarding in downtown Aspen. It’s not clear yet how the Skico will celebrate the first riders heading up the gondola, but a group of skiers is said to be planning their own irreverent salute to the occasion.

The Spring Jam will continue at Aspen Mountain until April 5, and then it will shift to the Snowmass Ski Area for events such as the Ski Splash, a halfpipe competition and a “Snowfusion” race featuring mountain bikes and kayaks on the snow. Then the event will return for another week of events, live music and aprs-ski parties at Aspen Mountain.

Other events during the two-week festival include a Pro Patrol Festival, a Burton-Klug Freeride and Race Camp and a terrain park competition open to the public on Little Nell.

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