Pond skimming meets rail jam at 2016 Red Bull SlopeSoakers in Copper April 16 | SummitDaily.com

Pond skimming meets rail jam at 2016 Red Bull SlopeSoakers in Copper April 16

Plain old pond skimming is for sissies.

This Saturday, the traditional end-of-season pool party for skiers and snowboarders gets a facelift, Red Bull-style, with the fifth running of the SlopeSoakers rail jam.

It's a devious combination of two spring favorites — a pond skim and a rail jam — held on a custom-built course at the base of American Flyer. The Woodward park crew spent the past two days setting jibs over, into and around a massive pool created just for the one-day-only event. There's a modified rainbow rail dressed up to look like an orca whale, a 70-foot log running beneath a waterfall and a speedboat that doubles as a kicker into the nearby mast (aka pole jam), all surrounded by chilly blue water.

"This is really a one-of-a-kind event," said Noah Schwander, terrain park and progression manager for Woodward Copper. "A few resorts have done a pond skim with a rail nearby, but nothing on this level. This is just a bigger scale than anything else."

Skim for the win

Come Saturday morning, the enormous pool will be filled with beach balls, inflatable whales and dozens of costumed competitors jibbing and bobbing for a piece of the cash purse. Registration is $25 for competitors of all ages and abilities, with divisions for men, women and youth, split between four heats beginning around 10:30 a.m. Helmets are required, but a lift ticket isn't — $25 means $25 — and so everyone must hike from the bottom to the top during the 20-minute heats. If water isn't your thing, stop by to watch the shenanigans for free and catch live music from Far East Movement after the awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in Center Village.

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As always, judges will divvy out points based on the pond-skimming classics: style, creativity, skimming steeze and crowd reaction. New this year is a "risk/reward" category, which gives judges a way to honor competitors for how often they tempt the watery fates and actually skim (not just gap over) the pond.

Think of it this way: If someone combos a switch lipslide to inflatable whale tail tap to skim out, chances are they'll score much higher than someone who avoids the water altogether. For organizers and, let's be honest, the crowd, that's the point: How wet can you get?

"We've got the nautical theme going," Schwander said. "We're really just trying to get people wet. There's no staying dry."

Also new this year is the pool itself. If you've competed at SlopeSoakers in the past, don't expect the same venue with multiple pools on Main Vein. This time, in an effort to give competitors more runs with less hiking, the Woodward crew built everything around a single pool at the base.

"The biggest challenge for us this year was change to a different footprint," Schwander said. "That's been a challenge to make everything fit in the smaller venue and still make it progressive and new and different."

Pool progression

For him, progression is the name of the game at SlopeSoakers. He and his crew designed the features and pool to be hit from multiple angles, just like the enormous hybrid quarterpipe in the heart of Central Park. There are even a few features made just for younger competitors, like a beginner rainbow box, to go with technical features like the gap-to orca rainbow over the pool.

"We wanted to give people options," Schwander said. "You can choose to transfer from one takeoff to another feature, and we wanted to give everyone some creativity. This sport is changing a lot, from heading downhill and hitting just one feature to hitting something from every last angle, and we want to bring that to this."

His personal favorite? The boat kicker, built so that folks watching from the patios at Jack's and Jill's will think competitors are launching off the deck of a real-life boat. He expects the feature — and SlopeSoakers in general — to be a hit with just about everyone willing to get wet for applause.

"From the employee side of it, there are a lot of guys who just want to blow off steam, and they'll be out there having fun," Schwander said. "From the guest side, they're just looking to send off a great season with one last, fun event."

2016 Red Bull SlopeSoakers rail jam

What: The 5th edition of an open rail jam (no ticket required) held on a one-time-only Woodward course at the base of American Flyer, with a pond, waterfalls and features like an orca rainbow rail

When: Saturday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m.

Where: Center Village, Copper Mountain

Cost: $25

The event follows a jam format, with four heats of 20 minutes each and a finals round beginning around 10:30 a.m. Helmets are required. Registration is available online until April 16 or on-site at the Woodward Cage in Center Village from 8-10:30 a.m. the day of the jam. All registration money goes to the cash purse for winners. To register, see redbullslopesoakers.splashthat.com.

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