I don’t know how many of you are regularly riding at Keystone, Colorado but I for one hadn’t been there in about four years. But last Wednesday I found myself with a few free hours in the Rockies Mountains and decided to stop by. After meeting up in the morning with the resort’s Manager of Communications Mike Lee and Senior Marketing Manager Brendan McCarthy in the executive offices in the village, we geared up and headed out on the hill.
I was expecting to go for a few corduroy cruisers, but I had no idea. Keystone has made a 180-degree turnaround in the last few years. Now more than ever the place is catering to snowboarders, and with snowboard visits to the resort hovering around 38 percent, Keystone has the highest ratio of snowboard to skier visits of any of the Vail-owned resorts.
Just one of the new initiatives has been to move and expand the terrain park. Now served by its own lift, the park has three lines for riders to choose from all with varying degrees of difficulty. Additionally Keystone purchased a Zaugg to groom the superpipe as well as investing 4.5 million-dollars in snowmaking for the entire resort.
The day we rolled out on the hill, Terrain Park Manager Chad Ozdemir was hard at work building a 100-foot gap jump for one of the top freeskiing movie producers, Matchstick Productions. Ozdemir picked myself and TWS‘s Kayse Hagins up for a few laps in the Bombardier while grooming the run-in and landing for the jump (see related Quicktime video).
In the cat I asked him how often he finds himself working with filmers and photographers. “Not enough,” he laughed. Although Ozdemir blew out his knee early season, he’s still stoked to get snowboarders out on the hill. He stressed that he really would like to work with brands and film crews to help them get the shots they need.
Overall, it seems with new upper-management Keystone is really listening to the people they have in place on the mountain. Ozdemir and his team of railbuilders and groomers are going crazy. Aside from some really smooth flowing lines through the rails, there are some crazy things on course as well. And, if you can’t get motivated on that alone there are stair sets, huge rainbows, and even a 150-foot-long double-barrel rail--it’s enough to make you hike that park like a fifteen year-old. Check it.