It’s not icy; it’s just a stylish way to start a ski season |

It’s not icy; it’s just a stylish way to start a ski season

Special to the DailyRichard Chittick

Let’s get one thing straight: Summit County ski slopes do not get icy. Ice is reserved for keeping drinks cold and frustrating East Coast skiers where rain is the only precipitation, and it falls on 100 percent man-made snow. Here in Colorado, what we get is hardpacked snow. That isn’t to say, however, that the snow can’t get so packed that it’s impossible to ski if you don’t have edges. And therein lies the rub. Let’s face it, none of us have edges on our equipment. Nonetheless, 36 Hours of Keystone was a raging success.Arguments regarding snow’s consistency and a monstrous promotional campaign by Keystone may seem like a non sequitur unless you were there Saturday morning. Conditions were especially bad on the final pitch down into River Run.

But hundreds – if not thousands – of people just didn’t seem to care. The novelty of skiing straight into the new day far outweighed the nature of the snow. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen River Run so full of people, even on a Saturday afternoon in mid March. Even the resort staff seemed a bit overwhelmed, as I observed out loud about the success of the event to a lift op and he just sighed, looked out over the monstrous line at the base of the River Run Gondola, and said, “I’m on hour 18 myself.”As for the 36-Hour Team challenge, 110 teams signed up, which I thought was quite respectable for a first-year event. That means more than 400 people took part in an effort to make sure that somebody was skiing down Dercum Mountain every hour that Keystone was open during the promotion. That’s every hour from 8 a.m. Friday until 8 p.m. Saturday.

I didn’t participate in the challenge, even though the $3600 grand prize was tempting. Dillon’s Maddie Rehn took on the challenge with three of her friends and had a great time, at one point taking a run on her snowboard down the mountain at 3:30 in the morning.”The only people who were out there (that early) were people doing the 36 hours,” the Summit High School sophomore said. “So everyone was just having fun and it was a blast.”And having fun seemed to be the point. Out of all the teams which finished the challenge, only one got to walk home with the grand prize. And that went to the Frisco duo Nikk Gearhart and Bill Pomeroy. Everyone else just accepted that even if they didn’t win the money, they could still do something they had never done before and enjoy it. “It would have been great to have won, but there’s a certain pride in finishing the thing which I think is what kept a lot of people going,” said Frisco’s Travis Pemberton. “The best run I did was a 6 o’clock run right after they groomed it, and watching the sun rise was awesome.”

When it was all over, everyone walked away with huge smiles on their faces, even if they were tired beyond comprehension. “We’re all exhausted over here,” said Keystone communications manager Amy Kemp. “We’re all ready to take a nap or two – or three – then wake up Monday morning and start over.”Kemp wasn’t trying to say they’re doing another 36 hours beginning today, she was just saying that Keystone’s season is really here. And it won’t be icy. It’ll just be awesome. Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at

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