After 15 years away, Quam Invitational snowskate jam returns to Copper Mountain Jan. 7-8 | SummitDaily.com

After 15 years away, Quam Invitational snowskate jam returns to Copper Mountain Jan. 7-8

Matt Quam got bit early by the snowskating bug.

Back in the early 2000s, just a few years after the native of Southern California left the West Coast for the Rocky Mountains, he launched the first (and only) bona fide snowskate competition at Copper Mountain Resort. The terrain park crew built a custom mini-park near the base of Super Bee — it was like a skate park on snow, he says — and held an evening jam for a couple dozen snowskaters.

Then, out of the blue, snowskating in Summit County essentially disappeared. Copper Mountain's owner in the 2000s, Intrawest, banned snowskates, saying they were a dangerous object with no failsafes, Quam remembers. But he was a skater at heart and stuck with the sport, ban or no ban, and continued taking his deck to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and anywhere else he was allowed.

"Snowskating is gaining momentum very, very slowly," said Quam, a former member of the Copper snowboard team who's now 43 years old and owns two small businesses in Silverthorne. "I thought it was going to get huge instantly when I started, but that's just not the case. I think it's because it's more difficult than snowboarding, and when you're really good at something it's hard to get people to step away from that."

This weekend, Quam challenges anyone and everyone — snowboarders and skiers, skateboarders and surfers, young and old and just plain curious — to drop by Copper for the second coming of his early-2000s snowskate competition. Dubbed the Quam Invitational, the new event runs both days this weekend with group rides, snowskate demos and terrain-park jams, and you'd better believe it's anything but competitive.

"That's what it is: an invite to come shred and have fun," Quam said. "I joke that it's not a contest — it's a fun-test to see who's having the most fun."

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You're invited

The Quam Invitational kicks off today with a group ride at 9 a.m. To join, stop by one of the demo tents in Burning Stones Plaza at Center Village and meet up with Quam, who plans to lead snowskaters on his favorite routes across the front-side of the mountain. If you don't have a skate, get geared up at one of four (or more) demo tents with decks from snowskate brands like Hovland.

After the group ride, head to the Woodward Copper terrain park beneath Union Express lift for a terrain-park jam from 12:30-2:30 p.m. It's a laid-back afternoon of skating, hiking and skating some more, Quam says, with no formal format. When his announcer sees something everyone loves, he'll call it out on the bullhorn and hand out giveaways throughout the day.

"The idea is that this is a free-flowing jam," said Quam, who wanted to model the weekend after old-school skateboard jams and days at the local skatepark. "We'll stop at obstacles, hang out, take photos, post up for a while, and then move to the next one after everyone has had their fill."

Quam and crew will be at Copper today and Sunday, with group rides and park jams at the same times both days. Today is the only day for the #Quamper Instagram contest: Take a photo of snowskaters tearing up the park, tag them #Quamper and #snowskate on Instagram, and Quam will award the best photos of the weekend with goodies. It's a way to get people of any ability in on the party.

"This is better than a traditional contest, where there is so much pressure," Quam said. "You spend so much time standing around in the cold, waiting for the perfect run, and that just doesn't inspire progression. This is all about progressing the sport."

growing pains?

How many people does Quam expect at the rebirth of his namesake event? No idea, he says. Outright bans were only the first barrier for snowskaters, but he believes the industry is slowly gaining momentum. Vail Resorts properties started allowing snowskates in 2013, and now they're allowed at just about every resort in Colorado, including Quam's favorites, Keystone Resort (for the side hits) and A-Basin (for the powder).

"We have a lot of kids getting into it now," Quam said. "When you have people like Terje Haakonsen posting vids about how much they love it on social media, that's huge for the sport."

But does Quam want snowskating to become the next snowboarding or skateboarding, with enormous cash payouts and bratty superstars and a spot at the Winter Olympics? Again, no idea, he says.

"It's kind of a mixed bag, right?" Quam said. "I want the sport to grow and be successful — I want my friends who have snowskate businesses to actually make money from their companies — but you know how it goes. When something goes mainstream, it can take away from it."

And that's where something like the Quam Invitational comes in, he says. This is a laid-back, no-pressure introduction to a sport he loves enough to do all day, any day during the winter. Until the powder day this past week, he hadn't strapped into a snowboard all season — snowskating is home.

"This is what I've been doing for years: trying to be a steward of the sport and make it just look like fun," Quam said with a short pause. "Because it is."

2017 Quam Invitational

What: A two-day snowskating event for anyone and everyone, featuring group rides at Copper Mountain and jam sessions in the Woodward Copper terrain park

When: Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7-8 beginning at 9 a.m.

Where: Copper Mountain

Cost: Free

All events are free and open to the public. There will be snowskate demos available at Burning Stones Plaza in Center Village all weekend from up to four snowskate companies. Group rides begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday (meet at the demo tents), followed by the park jams from 12:30-2:30 p.m. (meet at the top of the Woodward snow park). For more info on the weekend, including a full schedule of events and locations, search for “Quam Invitational at Copper Mt.” on Facebook.

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#Quamper IG contest

Ready to give snowskating a try but not quite ready to shred? There’s a contest for you too. During the Saturday jam session, take photos of snowskaters in the Woodward Copper park and mini pipe, tag the photos #Quamper and #snowskate on Instagram, and you’re automatically entered in a social-media contest for sponsor givewaways. There will be shirts, hats, beanies and more, plus full snowskates for the grand winner.