Red Bull Slopesoakers brings funky pond-skimming contest to Copper, April 15
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What: 2017 Red Bull Slopesoakers, an annual end-of-season contest that combines slopestyle, pondskimming and rail jam features on a custom-made course.
When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 15.
Where: Main Vein course, Copper Mountain.
More information: The event is open to skiers and snowboarders ages 16 and older. Athletes compete in a jam format with four heats of 20 minutes each, followed by a 20-minute final. Helmets are required. Awards are given to best overall skier (male and female), best overall snowboarder (male and female), best costume, best crash and best trick (skier and snowboarder). To register and find out more, visit slopesoakers2017.redbull.com.
In November, a group of civil engineering students was given the project of a lifetime: design and perfect a course for the annual Red Bull Slopesoakers end-of-season bash at Copper Mountain.
On Saturday some six months after their professor at University of Colorado Boulder announced the contest, the students of Team Purple Cobra will see their design become a reality, with water, rails, boxes and literally tons of snow at the base of Main Vein.
The concept: a jungle on snow, with elements ranging from a banana rail and jungle gym to a legitimate rope swing, all perched precariously over a deep, watery pit made to get competitors soaking wet.
“One of the biggest things we had was, initially, a really creative idea that Red Bull really liked,” said Joe Maguire, one of four students on the team. “Then we had a design that wasn’t just fun, but was also realistic for building. We wanted to have that flexibility aspect: something that was reasonable and fun.”
Fun has been the name of the game at Slopesoakers for the past six seasons. The event is a way to combine everything people love about spring riding: rail jam features, slopestyle jumps and pondskiming, with an emphasis on costumes and taking a dip in the pool.
Judges look for the pond-skimming basics — tricks, style, crowd reaction and steeze — plus something Red Bull calls “risk and reward:” how often a competitor attempts the pond, rather than just airing over it.
Luckily, the jungle design from Team Purple Cobra gives folks plenty of options for impressing the judges. Slopesoakers has always been wildly creative — last year’s course featured an enormous C-rail, shotgun rail and wave wallride — but this is the first time organizers have asked engineering students for fresh ideas. Team Purple Cobra was one of several teams in the design contest, and while Red Bull chose their idea for the framework, organizers pulled together several ideas from other teams for the course.
“We wanted to incorporate designs and ideas that had never been used before,” Maguire said. “It was about using space in a creative way so that competitors are getting an experience they aren’t getting anywhere else.”
Drawing board to reality
The team started in November with a few basic ideas: pools, the jungle theme, a rope swing. The original draft actually had too many elements, and so the guys spent the next few weeks fine-tuning the course for real life.
“Our first design had so much stuff in it that it almost looked like a jungle,” said Grant Kamin, another team member. “It wasn’t going to work because of time and budget constraints, but after we looked at what was essential and what wasn’t, it turned into more of a jungle-gym theme.”
Kamin and Co. kept tweaking and changing things until nearly the last minute. In mid-March, everyone met with Red Bull and Woodward Copper to finalize the course. The process was far from ordinary, but everyone on the team loves to ski, so it was easy after a while to pair course design with engineering skills.
“I love hanging out with these guys, and it really just started by brainstorming some ideas,” team member Drew Dahm said. “Some were realistic, some wouldn’t ever work, and once we had the jungle theme, we started going with all sorts of ideas. Everything came back to: Is it realistic, and has it been done before?”
But will Team Purple Cobra get to test their skills on their course? Maybe — but most likely not, the guys said. Still, they’ll be there on Saturday to see their baby come to life and to watch skiers and riders slide, grind, jump, fall and swim all over it.
“It’s been a really awesome experience to work with Copper and Red Bull and even the other teams,” Kamin said. “It’s been a competition, but it always felt like the teams were working to make this the best possible event.”
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