Colorado’s 2012/13 ski season officially kicked off on October 17 when Arapahoe Basin edged out Loveland in the perennial race to open first. Two weeks later, November 2—today—marked the next set of CO openings with Keystone firing up its lifts, as well as Copper Mountain, just down the road, celebrating its 40th anniversary. And while Copper’s big opening is momentous, what drove the FREESKIER staff to Keystone was one very simple thing: the lure of 25+ jib features.
When we arrived this morning around 8:30 a.m., a long line had already formed at Keystone’s River Run Gondola. And not surprisingly—on top of the excitement surrounding “first chair,” Keystone advertised that one of the first 100 people in line would be randomly selected to win a special prize pack from GoPro. As the 9:00 opening approached, president of Keystone Resort, John Buhler, rallied the crowd via megaphone, and introduced a special guest.
On location this morning was none other than Bill Bergman, one of Keystone’s founding fathers. Bill, who was recently inducted into the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, was presented his own honorary gondola cabin—cabin #2, adorned with a vintage photograph of Bergman. Additionally, Buhler declared November 2nd Bill Bergman Day at Keystone Resort. After accepting a loud round of applause, Bergman and his wife Jane, along with some friends, hopped into the spiffy new cabin and were the first to ascend the mountain. Next? A horde of eager ski and snowboard enthusiasts, dressed in their neon, their Mario and Luigi outfits, their gorilla suits, etc.—and eventually, us.
We ripped one hot lap from top to bottom to get ‘er going. After all, you’ve got to warm up the legs, right? And “Damn, that was fun!” With one run under our belts, we made our way to the backside of the mountain where a jib park awaited. As previously mentioned, the park features 25+ rails and boxes, and is serviced by the Ranger chair—providing quick, easy laps. Slightly shielded from the general public, the park is a great place to avoid the frontside hoopla, where people can stick to what’s important—and right now at Keystone, that’s jibbin’.
There are three distinct lines people can choose to shred: The left side, featuring a slew of boxes; the middle line, containing a handful of pipe-style rails; and the right side, littered with rails of the “technical” designation. Of course, you’re free to cross from left to right, and vice versa. Just follow your creative inner compass—you can’t go wrong.
I caught up with pros Will Berman and Ben Moxham. The two spun hot laps while I followed along snapping some photos. Be sure and check out the gallery above to catch the glimpse of some of the features. Berman said of the park, “It’s super sweet. So many jibs, and everything is set up real’ good. Stoked to have another option besides A-Basin and Loveland. It’s nice to have some new toys to play on. Keystone always has the best. Enjoying the day, for sure. Oooh! [he screams as he watches Maks Gorham “taco” over a rail just a few yards away.]”
Ben Moxham gettin’er done.
Gorham’s spill was one of many great tumbles witnessed today. For some, opening day is an opportunity to get back into the proverbial groove. For others, like Moxham, Berman, Gorham and other notables on hand—like Pat Goodnough—park skiing is, as the old saying goes, like riding a bike. That being said, there was plenty of ultra-tech jibbery going down throughout the day. Stay tuned for video highlights, coming tomorrow.
And with that, Keystone’s 12/13 season is under way. It’s only a matter of time before A51 is up and running, and the usual throng of big-name pros invades the Resort to train for the likes of X Games and Dew Tour. Until then, the temporary jib park will surely keep the masses entertained.
For those in the area, be sure to check out Saturday’s River Run Rail Jam event in River Run Village; registration kicks off at 2:30 p.m. While Keystone has transplanted plenty of snow to the village—enough for the rail jam to go off—the Village is still a bit bare, so join me in praising the snow gods. Here’s hoping our praise will yield happy gods, and thus, abundant snowfall.
Update: November 5, 2012 @ 4:52 p.m.
To round out Opening Weekend, Keystone hosted the Back to the Grind rail jam on Saturday evening. Catch a glimpse of the setup in the video below, thrown together by the folks at Keystone: