It was a multiglisse love fest of sorts in the land of fur coats and the genetically gifted. Under perfectly clear skies a big air was held on Aspen Mountain. It was 36 hours after a Gulfsteam jet with 18 people on board crashed into the Valley floor killing all on board and the day before the mountain lost what one Associated Press writer called its “last shred of decency” by allowing snowboarders on Ajax slopes.
A dozen snowboarders and their dual-plank-riding cousins hit the kicker for an hour and a half while a panel of four judges kept score. “We’re not using traditional big air judging criteria today,” said head judge Greg Johnson. “We ‘re using the star system. We watch each person jump and if they throw something impressive we give them a star. Whoever has the most stars at the end of the jam will be the winner.”
The judges starred both snowboarders and skiers, while up on the scaffolding next to the jump Olympian Chris Klug, the pride of Snowmass Travis Mclain, and a couple ski guys were on the mic keeping the airways filled with pertinent information. “In the off season he enjoys inline skating and naked, underwater bungee jumping,” Travis would say. “His sponsors include his parents, and a roll of duct tape.”
Down below, the plaza at Little Nell was crowded with people out for a nice afternoon of Aspen spectacle. Many happy to be distracted from the terrible horrors of the plane crash that visitors were forced to experience each time they made the drive in or out of Aspen.
Last year’s winner was Chad Otterstrom of Breckenridge, Colorado. On this day the outcome would be different. While riders like Nic Drago, Ryan Lougee, and Dar Short were putting up the big spins, the battle was between Lance Pitman and Chad Otterstrom. Jump after jump the two upped the ante. Both threw down cab 900s with all kinds of grabs. Otterstrom probably threw in the widest range of tricks including huge backside 180s.
When the judges were finished, however, and they tallied up their stars the winner became obvious: Lance Pitman edged Otterstrom for the win and Dar Short got past Ryan Lougee for third. And that’s as far as the judges went. No one was even placed after that, because after all, it was an Aspen multiglisse love fest of sorts.