Best in snowskating take to Copper |

Best in snowskating take to Copper

Snowskater Matt Quam takes on a wall ride feature in the Copper Mountain terrain park on Saturday at his Quam Invitational, the return of an event from the early aughts aimed at uniting the binding free community.
Jon Scharfencamp | The Vail Daily |

COPPER MOUNTAIN — On Saturday and Sunday, Summit County local Matt Quam was reminded just how close the ties become when the bindings are removed.

It has been over a decade since Quam held an event aimed at getting the North American community of snowskaters together in the name of their sport – which uses a skateboard deck mounted atop a narrow ski to create a more difficult version of snowboarding that doesn’t affix the rider to the board with bindings.

Quam said that was the first allure to the sport for him all those years ago, a binding free experience. Today, he says he’s binding free for life.

“My feet don’t hurt, my knees don’t hurt, and that’s just the way I like it,” he said.

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Held on Saturday and Sunday on Copper Mountain, the new incarnation of the Quam Invitational was an opportunity for Quam to see first hand how far the fringe sport has come since the days of his original event held in the early aughts. That first Quam Invitational was more of a “skateboard-style park,” Quam said, which his group would set up at the bottom of the Super Bee chair at Copper Mountain. Today snowskaters are able to ride the whole mountain, through trees and powder and everywhere they take their snowboards, so with plenty of fresh snow falling on Sunday at Copper, the Quam Invitational allowed snowskaters to test the capabilities of powder and all-mountain riding as well as enjoy skateboard-style tricks in the park.

“It was just everyone having fun and trying some hard things, we wanted to see some progression,” he said.


The event brought in snowskate industry leaders from around the country. Jim Spiers with Predog Snowskate and Danny Sheehan with Ralston Snowskates came in from California for the event, Paul Elkins with Fuse Snowskates came in from Crested Butte and Dan Russell with Hovland Snowskates came in from Minneapolis, among others. With them came top riders — Alan Gerlach, Adrian Rasmussen, Jimmy Leaphart, Clayton Conway and many more — making copper a nexus of talent from around the country over the weekend.

“It’s not very often that these people who know of each other from social media and internet clips get to meet up and ride together,” said Russell, who flew in late Saturday just for the event. “There were people from British Columbia, Washington State, Utah, Maryland, all over the place. We rode the whole mountain then got dinner together at Copper. It was a really great experience.”


Any time you get the best athletes a snowsport has to offer on the mountain together for a good time, a competitive atmosphere tends to follow. Quam, however, said for him, the event was just a way of showing the positive side of the sport and getting people together to have fun.

“We’re calling it a fun test, instead of a contest, who ever is having fun out here, that’s who we want to see. We’re just here to give out some prizes and just kind of promote our sport.”

Quam handed out various snowskating related gifts throughout the weekend while watching the sport’s up and comers show off where things were headed.

“I took my lumps 15 years ago, I was out here falling all the time,” Quam said. “But once I got it, I stuck with it. It’s really fun, I’d recommend it to everybody.”

Kristina Sappenfield, an Eagle County mother who teaches snowboard lessons at Beaver Creek, said she was introduced to the sport a few years ago and has been hooked ever since.

“I’ve been snowboarding since 1986, and I think I was looking for something new,” she said. “Once I tried the snowskate I kept wanting to go back out on it. I’m a social person so I love all the conversation it starts with everyone who sees it.”