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Camp attracts rippers of all ages, abilities

Nate Peterson

Sixty-five isn’t too old to ride the halfpipe.At least that’s the philosophy of local World Cup snowboarder Chris Klug, whose camp at Buttermilk – now in its sixth year – attracts fourth-graders, senior citizens and everyone in between. “We had quite a few people in their 60s last year,” Klug said. “It’s not just one or two. We’ve definitely got some regulars.”Klug expects to draw around 30 snowboarders each day for this year’s camp, which begins today and runs through Sunday. Within that group, there is much diversity, Klug said -everything from local kids looking to improve their skills in the halfpipe, to middle-aged out-of-towners who want to learn how to ride boardercross.This wasn’t always the case. Klug originally envisioned the camp as a “hard-core” training clinic for competitive juniors.The first camp in 2001 on Aspen Mountain followed that model. Ten campers signed up for a week of instruction, learning alpine technique from Klug and U.S. Snowboarding teammate Rosey Fletcher of Alaska and getting freestyle instruction from local pro Travis McLain, a Winter X Games veteran.The campers had a great experience, Klug said, but it became apparent that the camp could be so much more to so many more people.”It was like, ‘Wait a second here,'” said Klug, who won a bronze medal in parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Olympics. “We could give a chance to everyone who wants to experience this stuff.” The next year, Klug moved the camp to Buttermilk and opened it up to all ages and abilities. The camp’s staff has also expanded. This year’s staff includes veterans of the Olympics, the Winter X Games, the Vans Triple Crown and the World Cup.Local pros like McLain and Doran Laybourn will work with riders in the terrain park, while Klug and Mitch Stout will teach those who want to improve their alpine technique.Local Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler is also expected to help out for a day working with campers in the halfpipe. One of the other halfpipe instructors is Bleiler’s friend Tricia Byrnes, a member of U.S. Snowboarding’s halfpipe team and a former Olympian.”We’ve got an all-star cast,” Klug said. “With this group of coaches, it’s really a chance for people who want to improve their riding get the instruction they need.”It’s really up to the campers, what they want to work on,” Klug added. “Some people come with specific goals, others don’t really care what they work on, they just want to become a good all-around rider.”Klug noted that his camp is unique in that respect. There are a number of other snowboarding camps, but most of them are discipline-specific, and typically only cater to younger riders with competitive aspirations.”The camps in [Mount Hood, Ore.] are great, but they don’t provide that variety of terrain and instruction in all the disciplines that we do,” Klug said. “They’re mostly for kids who want to work on halfpipe or ride rails. Plus there’s only one pitch to go down there. Here, you can work on running gates or doing boardercross, or just freeriding. … [Today], there will probably even be some powder turns in the trees over on the Tiehack side of the mountain.”Spots are still available for this year’s camp, Klug said. The cost is $450 for all three days, or $150 per day. The fee covers a lift ticket, a barbecue lunch, awards, autographed posters from coaches, and a T-shirt. There is also an awards ceremony Sunday. Transportation, lodging, breakfast, dinner and other incidental costs are not included. The camp begins at 8:45 a.m. each day at Bumps restaurant at the base of Buttermilk.Interested parties can register by calling 923-1227. Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com


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