Bumble Powder 8 skiing competition will be buzzing on Aspen Mountain
Some of the top synchronized skiers in the world will strut their stuff on Aspen Mountain this weekend in the Bumble Powder 8 Championship.
The competition will start on the North American trail Friday. The last eight teams in the running will venture onto the backside of Aspen Mountain on Saturday for the finals.
“It will be like no Powder 8 event you’ve seen before,” said Charlie Givens, a co-founder of the event.
Bumble, a social-networking app that is geared toward women in dating, friendship and business, is placing as much importance on the spectating as the competition. There will be a party on the deck of Bonnie’s Restaurant Friday for a front-row seat to the competition. A jumbotron for viewing and a party tent at the base of the Silver Queen Gondola will be set up for the finals Saturday.
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Powder 8 competitions feature teams of two skiers heading down the slopes in a synchronized way and creating perfect chains of 8s. The timing is critical, and most teammates have practiced together for years so they instinctively know each other’s skiing styles and moves.
The winning team will get a $10,000 cash prize. The second-place team will receive $2,000.
Givens said there are roughly 75 teams signed up. They are coming from Europe, South America and throughout the U.S.
At least one local team has entered. Flint Smith and Erik Peltonen have competed together off and on for nearly 40 years in Powder 8 contests. They won North American titles in 1981 and 1982. Smith is a ski patroller on Aspen Mountain. Peltonen is a former patroller who can be found just about every day of ski season at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands.
Peltonen said this week they decided to register and see what happens. They have been practicing when possible over the past couple of weeks, on North American and other trails on Aspen Mountain.
“We never did really peak,” Peltonen, 77, quipped. “We’re looking for a peak here.”
Peltonen leads the tandem. He said Smith has “fast feet” and reacts well to what Peltonen is doing.
“My thing is to get a pace going,” he said. “It’s all about keeping your timing in steeps.”
The teams will be winnowed out Friday in a technical and qualifying round that will reduce the field to 32. They will then compete in brackets in a single-elimination format, first reducing the field to 16 teams and then to eight.
The competition on North American will be held from 9:30 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m.
The eight surviving teams will be hauled by snowcat out on Richmond Ridge on Saturday. They will compete on West Little Annie, “where the lane space is wide and the powder is untouched,” Bumble’s website said about the event.
“The final eight teams will compete in an elimination format by bracket; the final two teams will compete in a two-run, head-to-head final for the ultimate prize of $10,000,” the website said.
The teams will be judged on synchronicity, dynamic skiing and the symmetry, roundness and line of descent. The chain of 8s that the tandem teams make should be straight, regardless of the fall line on the slope.
Since the finals will be tough for spectators to access, Givens said an eight-person camera crew will film the action, including the use of drones. It will be live-streamed to a jumbotron placed on the snow near the base of the Silver Queen Gondola. Bumble will also have a party tent set up in the Gondola Plaza for cocktails, food and music.
“It’s going to be a real spectating experience,” Givens said.
The live streaming of the event can be found at http://www.bumble.com/powder8.
The finals will start at about noon Saturday. There will be an awards ceremony sometime around 3 p.m. and the party will continue into the afternoon.
He is expecting a good mix of local residents and visitors among the spectators.
“Bumble can geo-target who we market to,” Givens said. “I think you’ll see a packed house.”
The intent is to start a circuit of Powder 8 competitions and hold the finals in Aspen. Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd owns a home in Aspen. She built the company after leaving Tinder, a company she co-founded. Bumble has been valued at more than $1 billion, according to a recent article in Forbes.
“Whitney and I became best friends in Aspen years ago and thought it only fitting that we host the event in Aspen year one and make this a spectacular event for the community,” Givens said.
Bumble is donating the revenue from the entry fees to Challenge Aspen.
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Aspen Skiing Co. and most of the Colorado ski industry were cruising along in a second strong season, until the coronavirus crisis forced their closure on March 14. Skier visits would typically be announced this week, but the ski industry is focused on forging ahead rather than looking back.