For Snow Park Technologies (SPT), the most anticipated event of each year is ESPN's X Games Aspen in Colorado. This event, broadcast live in 184 countries around the world, puts an entirely new level of pressure on the crew as they attempt to build the best courses in X Games history.
The third episode of 'Mountain Movers,' National Geographic Channel's new series presented by Chevrolet, features the SPT crew working within a narrow window of time to meet the hard deadline imposed by live television and the arrival of more than 150 of winter action sports' top professional athletes. Despite inclement weather and last minute course changes that stall their progress, SPT must take the X Games Big Air and Slopestyle courses to the next level.
"X Games holds a really deep spot in my heart, because I was the original course designer from day one of the very first Winter X Games, and I have been all the way through. This will be year 17," said Chris "Gunny" Gunnarson, president of SPT. "This is the biggest winter action sports event on the planet, and it's got to have the best courses, be completed on time and ready for live for TV. The best athletes in the world participate, so it has to be better than everything else we do."
For this build, Gunny gives up complete control over this event for the very first time, and names his protégé, Chris Castaneda as project manager. In this new role, Chris is responsible for oversight of both the build and overall course operations. The project entails the most elaborate courses the Winter X Games have ever seen, including a massive 75-Foot Big Air Jump and a Slopestyle course comprised of two sections; the upper section contains rails and steel boxes, followed by four jumps ranging from 55 to 70-Feet at the bottom.
"When Gunny entrusted me to take the responsibility of the X Games, I got excited. It's the biggest project that we have," said SPT's X Games project manager, Chris Castaneda. "Knowing that he is passing the baton to me and trusting that I'm going to get the job done right with the crew that I have – it stoked me out."
"The Big Time"
Thursday, May 23, at 8 p.m. ET/PT
It's time for SPT's most stressful, most anticipated event of the year: the ESPN X Games in Aspen, Colo. As the original course designer for all 17 years of the ESPN Winter X Games, Gunny still feels the pressure to build the biggest, most intense courses the industry has ever seen. Gunny has passed the torch to his young protégé Chris Castaneda to lead the crew from SPT, who will have to manage the diverse SPT personalities of veterans Mike Binnell and Aaron Dettling, as well as rookie Landon Taylor. Extremely cold weather, malfunctioning equipment and tight deadlines quickly pile on to the intensity and difficulty of this worldwide televised live event. With the highest-caliber athletes waiting and the whole planet watching, SPT will have their work cut out for them.
"Pretty much since I first came to the X Games I think was the first time I met Gunny, and he has always been the nicest guy," said professional snowboarder Torstein Horgmo. "Whatever you want to have built, pretty much anywhere on the planet, he'll be there for us with his whole crew and they kill it for us. He doesn't fail. Ever."
Working in the most remote locations under extreme conditions, Mountain Movers profiles the SPT crew's every move — from battling with avalanche control to building a halfpipe in blizzard conditions. In each episode, we'll see passion and craftsmanship at work. No one understands how to move and shape snow like this team.