X Games jumps rebuilt for May training
AVSC staff report
The wealth of snow produced for Buttermilk’s X Games continues to be put to good use, as this weekend and into May, AVSC alpine racers will be running gates on the newly flattened former slopestyle jumps.
This is the second year that the hefty piles of snow have been repurposed for spring training. It’s a boon to young athletes who can benefit from ski time without the inconvenience and expense of travel.
“We have the snow. We might as well use it,” said Susan Cross, Buttermilk mountain manager.
AVSC Alpine Director Greg Needell started calling it the “Buttermilk Glacier” as a joke. Now the name has caught on.
When he first arrived in Aspen two years ago, Needell was struck by how much snow remained on the front side of Buttermilk well after the lifts were shut down.
His vision of pushing out the Winter X Games jumps to create lanes for race training proved popular in its first go-round, with interest growing now in the second year. Alpine teams from Telluride, Powderhorn and Sunlight may join AVSC for giant slalom runs the weekend of May and 5.
Slalom is planned for May 11 and 12 and 18 and 19, conditions permitting. Transport will be via trucks to shuttle the skiers uphill. Between 7 and 10 a.m., coaches expect they’ll make up to 10 runs in the gates.
The more turns the better in terms of repetition and muscle memory. This extension to the 2012-13 training season also can lay down a foundation for the June on-snow camps AVSC is offering at Mount Hood and Mammoth Mountain.
“It makes these camps productive because they’ve been in contact with snow,” Needell said. “Any time you get a little more time on snow, it accumulates over their (training) career. “ For more, go to teamavsc.org.
There’s been plenty of activity at Buttermilk since the lifts closed April 7. A 10-day Red Bull training camp brought elite athletes to the halfpipe, said Cross. A photo shoot by Muscle Milk, which brought its own giant airbag, was recently completed.
Add to that the uphillers who don’t want the good snow to go to waste and Buttermilk continues to be busier than expected during the spring off season.
“On Sunday, while we were grooming it, some people were skiing down while other people were coming up. There’s still interest out there,” Cross said.
The mountain manager said she was looking forward to making some turns on the groomed hill before AVSC coaches salt the surface to make it racer ready for this weekend.
While closed to the public through Friday – the terrain being used is private land – Cross said uphillers may use the slope after the AVSC racers are finished on the weekend.
Skico and AVSC are continuing to work cooperatively on improvements that benefit athletes both here and at Aspen Highlands.
Sister City trip, in review
The four AVSC student athletes and coach who visited Abetone, Italy, in February as part of a new Sister City program will talk about their experiences, which include forerunning the Pinocchio Cup, today on “Weekly with Walt.” Hosted by Excellence Director Walt Evans, the show airs at 7 p.m. on GrassRoots TV, Channel 12, and is repeated through the week.
This column is now on summer hiatus so in the meantime, please stay tuned to club happenings by visiting teamavsc.org and through “Weekly with Walt.”
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Teams have two more weekends of racing before the scheduled regional meet on Oct. 9 in Durango. The state cross country meet is slated for Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs.