A closer look at sliding Denver’s "West Steps Rail" | SummitDaily.com

A closer look at sliding Denver’s "West Steps Rail"

Special to the DailyRichard Chittick

It’s going to be hard to miss in the coming months what the Copper Mountain and Winter Park freeride teams put together last Tuesday on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol building.I spent some time photographing more than a dozen skiers and snowboarders hitting the “West Steps Rail” in Denver last week. Since then I’ve seen images from the same shoot appear in the Rocky Mountain News and on the website for Skiing Magazine.Warren Miller Entertainment was there, too, including an appearance by the veteran filmaker’s son, Perkins Miller. No doubt the session will appear in Warren Miller No. 56 when it debuts next November. To say the least, the whole affair was pretty impressive.

The snow was provided by Copper Mountain and the capable efforts of mountain ops gurus Doug Hagen and Jack Spelman. Three truckloads were brought down, and it was slowly shoveled into place by, of all people, the marketing staff. The rail was provided by Winter Park, in the form of a custom steel cap bolted onto one of the capitol building’s polished brass rails. It was constructed by the resort’s freeride team manager and terrain park director, Bob Holme, who played a big part in negotiating with state government officials to make the session a reality. “Initially, they were a little skeptical,” Holme said. “But all you need is snow, a rail and a ramp. After the first couple of meetings they really warmed up to the idea.” The entertainment was provided by a handful of the state’s best skiers and snowboarders.Copper Mountain’s Nick Mercon, Greg Tuffelmire and Matt Peterson were the first to hit it. But Winter Park’s crew quickly got into the action as well when James Mammely and Travis Redd jumped on board.

Then the pinheads went to town, as Winter Park’s Decker Jory and Warren Miller star Max Mancini slid the rail freeheel.The whole time, Spelman worked as a backstop for the athletes as they hit the landing, then slide off the snow and out of control across the pavement into Spelman’s arms. It wasn’t just the men, though; the women and children also frolicked.First, Boulder’s Lisa Solberg overcame her jitters at the 2-foot launch required to get off the ramp and onto the rail. She later revealed it was the first time she had ever hit a rail that required a launch, as opposed to skiing directly off the snow onto the rail.

Solberg was followed by 11-year-old jibbing phenom Forrest Cole, who stole the show. Everyone knew Cole could do it – except maybe Cole, until Frisco’s Tuffelmire carefully explained the logistics of making it off the ramp and onto the rail. Finally, Cole slid the rail right on the heels of Tuffelmire – and there was no stopping the little grommet from there. As dozens of people watched, Cole hiked the stairs over and over again, rail-reveling.It was pretty cool to see the little guy enjoy himself in a setting that came about because of cooperation between the state’s primary municipal building and a couple of ski resort marketing departments. Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at rchittick@summitdaily.com.

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