Breckenridge Ski Resort to host GoPro Big Mountain Challenge |

Breckenridge Ski Resort to host GoPro Big Mountain Challenge

A skier airs off a rock outcropping during Breckenridge's inaugural GoPro Big Mountain Challenge last season. The event returns to the mountain's Peak 6 hike-to terrain this weekend.
Sebastian Foltz / | Summit Daily

Big mountain ski contests: The name sounds intimidating and it should. The style of competition involves a skier or snowboarder being judged for selecting a line down a slope that often includes dropping off a cliff while doing a flip or a 360.

“I kind of look at big mountain skiing as hotdog skiing of the ’70s in the modern era,” said Chris Carson, director of freeski programs for Team Summit Colorado. “It’s definitely an adventurous style of skiing. It’s very calculated, though.”

For the second consecutive year, Breckenridge Ski Resort — together with Team Summit — will showcase the discipline when it hosts the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association’s GoPro Big Mountain Challenge junior freeride competition this weekend.

“We’re really excited to do it for a second year,” Breckenridge competition director Dave Little said, adding that the event showcases Peak 6’s more rugged terrain.

As a good indication of the sport’s growth, last year’s event featured 60 competitors. This year the competition was capped at 95 athletes and sold out within 20 minutes. Carson said there are also an additional 50 athletes on a wait-list for the event.

“I think it speaks to the quality of the event we put together and the quality of the terrain,” Little said.

Carson agreed.

“Clearly, word got out,” he said.

The competition will take place on the hike-to terrain on Peak 6, part of a resort expansion that opened last winter.

“It’s really great,” Carson said of the terrain, adding that it was comparable to a number of other longer standing big mountain destinations. “It’s got a lot of different options. It’s definitely one of the steeper venues in Colorado.”

The event will include three age brackets, under 12, 12 to 14 and 15 to 18.

“This is a launching pad for young athletes and their pro careers,” Carson said. “I think we’re going to see some really amazing performances from these young athletes. Our 15- to 18-year-old group will wow the crowd with what they can do.”

Under the umbrella of freeriding or freeskiing, big mountain competitors are judged similar to slopestyle, but on natural features outside of the terrain park. Skiers and riders are awarded points based on the line they choose through terrain that often includes cliff bands, chutes, drops, trees and other terrain features. Style, creativity, technique, control and aerial maneuvers are all factored into scoring.

“Judges reward great skiing,” Carson said, comparing the style of skiing to something you might see in a backcountry ski movie.

Big mountain skiing continues to grow in Colorado and other parts of the country. In recent years, Team Summit and other local clubs have added big mountain programs to their list of ski and snowboard offerings. Carson said he hopes to see more competitions locally in the years to come. He also believes Breckenridge’s Peak 6 could be a viable venue for pro-level competition in the future.

This weekend’s competition kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m., with the finals scheduled for Sunday.

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