Snowmass anniversary weekend draws to end with jumps, party
Changing on the fly became an impromptu theme to the 50th anniversary weekend at Snowmass, and Sunday’s final day was no different as organizers continued to roll with the limited conditions.
The day was planned as a kind of ode to the 1970s with a community picnic set for the Spider Sabich race area and the revival of the famed cabin jump in the terrain park. However, because of the lack of snow and no access to the areas, the lunch was moved and the cabin jump competition canceled but the new feature still debuted Sunday.
The original idea was to rebuild a cabin in the likeness of the one skiers used to jump over in the 1970s. When that wasn’t feasible, the park crew adjusted and came up with a cabin of a different sort.
An old gondola that was in the trees next to the terrain park and used for years as a tool shed was again reborn, this time as a park feature.
“It used to be wrapped in a Red Bull logo and Red Bull used it for something years ago, then we took it over and used it as our tool shed,” said Allen Dehn of the Snowmass terrain park crew. “We would keep all our grinders and stuff inside of there, about halfway down the main park, so if we needed to fix something we had it close. But we have a new trailer, so we just peeled off the wrapping and cleaned it up.”
After talk that the entire cabin jump might have to be scrapped because of the poor conditions, terrain park supervisor Chris Branstetter worked on the takeoff and landing over the course of two days late last week, and the crew tested it Saturday.
“It came together,” Branstetter said as he watched skiers and snowboarders soar over the jump. “We tested it first without the gondola in there, and then had bamboo sticks the same height and jumped over those.”
Getting to the park proved to be difficult and the reason the competition was canceled but the jump was still open. There was no access from above the park Sunday, so freestylers had to hike up the park from below.
The crew now will focus on getting the terrain park and the superpipe in shape for next month’s U.S. Grand Prix, which is the penultimate qualifying event for those trying to make the U.S. team for the Winter Olympics.
The Grand Prix at Snowmass is Jan. 10 to 14, and in a tip of the hat to the anniversary season the rails on the Grand Prix slopestyle course will be painted gold.
The anniversary weekend crowds were mainly from Denver, Snowmass Village Police Chief Brian Olson said Sunday, and came and went without any problems. He said there was only one minor drunken disorderly arrest Friday night, and it was a first-year employee in the area.
Other than that, the parking lots were packed and the bars were full, Olson said, but no major issues.
Abello said Sunday that plans will be announced in January for closing weekend in April.
With the lack of snow and just 130 acres open for the anniversary celebrations, Aspen Skiing Co. said anyone who bought a $6.50 lift ticket online and didn’t come can use them in the closing week. Less than half of the more than 12,000 tickets sold online were used Friday.
“There’s a lot of those tickets out there,” Snowmass Tourism director Rose Abello said Sunday. “We really want to do a blowout closing, but never want to announce what we’re doing until after this. We’ll see what we liked from this, meet and plan a big closing.”
And though the weekend didn’t go off exactly as scripted, Abello said one of the nicest things was longtime ski school director Stein Eriksen being remembered fondly Saturday night at the 50th anniversary gala. The former Olympic champion and professional racer in the 1950s was the director when the resort opened in 1967. He died in 2015 at age 88 at his home in Park City, Utah.
The gala Saturday night was sold out and many of those who held Eriksen near and dear were part of the event.
“There were plenty of people, men and women, who he hired and brought here and are incredibility devoted to him,” Abello said. “It was really cool to see.”
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.