The concept behind the Pure Carve Expression Session is elegant in its simplicity–unite carvers from around the world for the sole purpose of riding together. The roster's spiced up with legendary surfers like Joey Cabell, Mike Doyle, Herbie Fletcher, and Mickey Muñoz–who better to lead the charge in what Pure Carve's Cliff Ahumada has dubbed “surf-style” carving?
Choice groomed runs are roped off just for Expression Session participants, who then ride with railing abandon until every inch of snow is etched with stylish “S” tracks and speed lines.
The first-ever Expression Session in 1999 felt like a carving Woodstock. Alpine riders came in ones and twos from all over–there was even a couple from Tasmania (with a baby named Aspen) who extended their family vacation to join in the fun. Two brothers, one from the Midwest and one from the East Coast, rode in formation to the rhythm of synchronized music playing in their helmets.
When one swath of snow was worked over–no remaining sign of corduroy–riders moved on to the next run or the next Aspen-area resort like a marauding band of sword-slashing Zorros.
Cliff and his hard-carving cohorts, themselves lifelong surfers from Southern California, rallied the trench tribes in a way no one had ever done before–not for prize money, just for the fun of riding. It was four days of hard-bootin', board-bending bliss.
The momentum of the inaugural “session” carried into the new millennium with a vengeance. The Pure Carve Expression Session 2000 attracted more Alpine riders than anyone could've imagined; snowboarding's “lost art” once again proved that the true underground of the sport is alive and kicking … or is that carving?
The spirit of the second annual event was as pure as it gets this side of riding untracked powder. Imagine a perfectly groomed race course with no one on it, the only difference is that there're no gates to dictate your line–absolute freedom of expression is the only goal. The run's closed to all but those with an “E” (for Expression) ticket, and a gatekeeper guards the entrance to keep out skiers (there are plenty of complaints from two-plankers craving access) and to make sure there's plenty of room between carvers. It's almost as much fun watching everyone else arc turns as it is dropping solo into a clean corduroy face yourself.
Carving around with locals also serves as one of the best ways to experience the three Aspen-area resorts that do allow snowboarding. Buttermilk is perfectly pitched for creative carving as well as for those just getting a handle on the faster side of life. This is where the local freecarve movement began when Chart House restaurant founder and iconic surfer Joey Cabell first started snowboarding in the early 90s. Aspen Highlands is right across the valley, and while it's known for steeper terrain, mellow mid-mountain groomers are tailor-made for hero turns. Snowmass, with its massive expanse of groomed runs of all pitches and lengths, is Aspen's crown jewel for all-around railing.
Sound too good to be true? It is. Don't let the next Pure Carve
Expression Session race by without you. Check out snowboardlife.com for details and next year's dates.