Summit freeskier reflects on 2020-21 season edit from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Zach Ryan’s A-Basin edit to debut on Newschoolers next week
Even though last winter wasn’t the biggest snow year, Summit County freeskier Zach Ryan set out to capture the essence of a season at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area with a 2020-21 season edit.
The edit, which is slated to debut on the popular freeskiing website Newschoolers.com on Tuesday, Oct. 5, is a rapid-fire 5-minute film chock-full of Ryan’s daring and dazzling freeskiing of A-Basin’s unique natural features.
The 28-year-old, who grew up skiing Pats Peak Ski Area near his hometown of Atkinson, New Hampshire, has made a couple of season edits at A-Basin before. This year’s edit will feature top-to-bottom lines in the daunting Steep Gullies terrain as well as impressive airs and tricks in the Pallavicini and East Wall areas.
It’s the kind of edit that could easily be mistaken for a season’s worth of time spent in the backcountry. But Ryan said that’s what makes A-Basin and its avalanche-controlled, inbounds terrain so special — that you can find such wild terrain at the ski area itself.
“A-Basin’s called the legend for a reason,” Ryan said. “The terrain they have inbounds is almost unmatched anywhere in the country. You have access to the craziest, steepest lines in Colorado only 20 to 30 minutes off a lift.”
Ryan said this year’s season edit is several years in the making because A-Basin’s renowned East Wall takes many trips to discover, explore and conquer.
Though he doesn’t keep track of his exact number of days on the hill, Ryan said he probably skied 80 days at A-Basin last winter, including 30 to 35 days hiking the East Wall.
“They were good days up there,” Ryan said. “They were ski lines I hadn’t necessarily laced up in previous seasons, somewhere where I tried to ski a line and had a fall. There was redemption on lines on the East Wall, and also finding new zones. It’s such a special place, and it takes a lot of knowledge to be comfortable exploring new zones.”
With his background as a terrain park skier, Ryan said he most enjoys bringing terrain-park style, and even some tricks, to A-Basin’s natural terrain. Last winter, that ranged from soaring straight airs landed in precarious Steep Gullies zones to a 720 off a natural jump in more open terrain.
“The Steep Gullies have a real steep pitch to them,” Ryan said. “… Similar to the East Wall, terrain like that takes a lot of time to build confidence in. Trying an air if you haven’t scoped it out five to 10 times before, with one small mistake, it could mean landing in deep snow or on top of a rock band.”
As for what the season edit showcases in the Pallavicini zone, Ryan said he had a blast sending “Hollywood” airs under the iconic lift, namely off Plaque Rock — a classic natural feature skiers gun for each year when the snow is right. Ryan also throws some backflips in the kind of terrain you wouldn’t expect the soaring trick.
“Being able to stomp a big air into a risky landing is a pretty rewarding feeling,” Ryan said. “And A-Basin doesn’t have tons of jumps in their park, but there are natural airs all around the mountain. It’s a fantastic spot for big mountain skiers to train and bring terrain park tricks and learn off natural takeoffs and landings.”
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