Once in limbo, Breck Powder 8’s looking probable
BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Powder Eights contest has been a source of local lore ever since it was started by ski patroller Jim Hamilton in 1980. And although many thought the competition would cease to exist following last season’s 25th anniversary, it’s now looking like it may return after all.Powder Eights organizer Rick Ascher seriously considered calling it quits after April’s event.”It has taken a lot of work and I figured the 25th year would be a good way to end it,” he said. “But now it’s kind of going in the direction that it will happen.”Ascher said he is still weighing local interest for the event and that a date for the 26th annual Powder Eights has not been set. Prior to his death in 1997, Hamilton asked his longtime friend Ascher to carry the torch for the Powder Eights.
Today, Ascher finds it hard to say no to perennial competitors who continue to express interest.”I thought there would be less interest this year but it turns out there’s more than ever,” he said.Mike Kopicky has participated in the Powder Eights every year since its inception – except, of course, for the “no snow” years of ’83 and ’85. He won the competition in 1984 with his partner Mike Priest.”I was real worried about it ending when Hamilton died,” Kopicky said. “But then Pup (Ascher’s nickname) picked up the ball and ran with it.”According to Kopicky, besides the advent of powder skis, the competition has hardly changed over the years.
“The people that are in it, love it,” Kopicky said.Breckenridge mountain manager Rick Sramek said the resort has always been supportive of the popular local’s event.”It’s not like anybody’s making money off it or anything,” Sramek said. “It’s a fun event, that’s the value. It’s like the Fourth of July parade, everyone likes to go … it’s a feel-good thing.”Although Breck discontinued the E Chair Challenge last season due to high operating costs, the Powder Eights competition was not affected. “The E Chair Challenge was a nice event, but for $25,000 we couldn’t support it,” Sramek said. “Deciding where to lend our support is an ongoing business process.”
Ascher is hoping to see the next Powder Eights take place on Peak 6 instead of Peak 7.”It would be a really nice venue with no interference from other skiers,” Ascher said. “Every year the conditions are variable, it’s rare that we get a consistent amount of snow for everybody to powder ski in.”According to Bob Tierney of the Breckenridge ski patrol, holding the event on Peak 6 would take some logistical planning with the U.S. Forest Service. “Peak 6 is within our permit boundary but outside of our operational boundary,” Tierney said. “I could see it happening, but I haven’t looked in to it.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13631, or at email@example.com.
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