Snowboarding turns 20 at Breckenridge this season
When Breckenridge Ski Area fired up its lifts at the beginning of the 1984-1985 season, they did something only a few ski resorts in the country were doing – they let snowboarders on their snow.Twenty years later, Breckenridge is throwing a party for a sport that has grown to be a part of the fabric of winter recreation. All season long, the resort will be celebrating its 20th anniversary of snowboarding. To go with the celebration, the resort has created a new snowboard competition series to be held on the 20th of each month. The resort will also be holding international competitions once again, with the Chevy Trucks U.S. Grand Prix, which takes place Dec. 18-20.From humble beginningsBreckenridge wasn’t first resort in the country – or even Colorado – to embrace what was a very young sport. But at the time, only about 40 of North America’s 600-plus resorts allowed snowboarding. Breck iced the way for the big ski areas.
“We were the first major resort to allow snowboarding,” said Brett Howard, Breckenridge’s senior marketing manager. The next season, Breckenridge took snowboarding a step further and hosted the sport’s first world championships. In a press release issued on March 3, 1986, the resort stated, “The World Snowboard Classic will … feature the crowd-pleasing half-pipe competition, where boarders snake down the length of a snow ‘culvert,’ using the sides of the snow walls for maneuvers and stunts before five judges.” Halfpipe, slalom and giant slalom titles were handed out in March 1986 at the World Snowboard Classic, also known as worlds. Among the champions were Breck’s Kerri Marsh in women’s slalom and Breck’s Shawn Farmer in slalom and giant slalom. Now, the snow walls of those culverts are up to 18 feet tall and the playground of internationally known athletes and competitions have grown to include slopestyle and rail jams.Breckenridge athletes are still at the forefront of the sport, as well. Last winter, Breckenridge team rider Steve Fisher won the superpipe competition at the eighth annual Winter X Games in Aspen. Snowboarding has also dramatically influenced skiing, changing the nature of the way skis are made with the introduction of shape skis in the late ’90s. What’s more, skiers are now just as common a sight in terrain parks, originally known as snowboarding parks when resorts first started constructing them in the ’80s.
4 Parks, 4 Pipes, 4 PeaksThe resort is also tying the 20th anniversary in with its 4 Pipes, 4 Parks, 4 Peaks promotion.The four peaks are the mountains which make up Breckenridge, which sits on the sides of the Tenmile Range’s peaks 7, 8, 9 and 10, including the 12,998-foot summit of Peak 8. The pipes and parks are Breckenridge’s effort to build terrain park features for every skill level. “Breckenridge has always been on the forefront of park and pipe technology,” Howard said. Multiple parks and pipes are not new for Breckenridge, but the resort has never featured four of each before. “What we’re going for is, we’ll have beginner all the way up through expert,” Howard said. “We’ll have a small, medium, large and an extra-large park.”
Added Tim Eastley, the operations supervisor for Breck’s terrain parks, “It’s nice to be able to give everybody a little something. Breckenridge has always been known for its big parks, but Breck is a family resort, so we should have the best beginner and intermediate terrain for people to progress.” The newest – and smallest – park and pipe will be found on Eldorado. The medium park and pipe will be on Gold King. Both are on Peak 9.The large park will be on Trygve’s while its complement halfpipe will be on Country Boy.The resort’s premier terrain park and superpipe will be in the same location it has been since the first world championships in 1986 – the Freeway Terrain Park on Peak 8. Eastley also added that the terrain park crew has created 20 new rails to spread throughout the four parks. “It’s gonna take a lot of work,” he said. “But we have six dedicated groomers (at night) for our parks and pipes and eight daytime staff.”For more information on Breckenridge’s 20th anniversary of snowboarding, visit breckenridge.snow.com.Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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