The Red-bull Cold-rush is coming to Red. Part ski-touring, big-mountain free-skiing, and slope-style competition. It’s pretty clear that Red-bull’s stated objective: to find the most versatile and best all-around skier, is secondary to the their primary goal of increasing the net worth of their billionaire owner through sales of a carbonated beverage laced with synthetic oxen bile, but I think it’s interesting to consider their claim at face value. (I must be clear that my cynicism about this event is rivaled by my displeasure that they’ve appropriated a favorite backcountry stash for their venue).
Red-bull are bringing in an invite only crew of young free-skiers for the event, all of whom have demonstrated a willingness to push their skills and bodies to the limit in pursuit of the self validation they think is to be found in skiing celebrity, a phenomena captured in the title of (ski-bum extraordinaire) Andy Stafford’s long threatened free-skiing expose – Did you see me? These guys have focused for a few short years on being noticed for skiing fast and taking big-air, and from what I’ve seen they’re pretty good at it. This contest will give them another opportunity to put on a show, and provide bragging rights for the most impressive on the day. It’s pretty obvious that this is a regional event with a roster of b-list competitors (none with any proven competence as competitive ski-tourers), but I question that any event could ever determine who is the most versatile and best all around skier.
We all know skiers with exceptional obsessions, a guy who charges the same small gnarly section of terrain every run, all season, another who does little else but ski, all day and often through the night, but as with launching hospital air or charging down an icy race course, to me such specialization falls short of any all-encompassing assessment of what might constitute best. I’ve spent the past 20 years living out my personal vision of what constitutes the best in skiing, and I’m surrounded by a community of people who are doing the same, people who’ve configured their lives around a passion for skiing. Out of the limelight you’ll find us flowing through the incredible terrain of Red Mountain, adapting to the vagaries of snow and weather, expressing a particular style, exploring the back-country, waiting for a long coveted line to come into condition, finding ways to balance commitments to friends, family and community, sharing our skills and enthusiasm. At it’s best skiing becomes a focal point around which to build a simple and authentic life, to practice patience and humility, to balance the physical and the ephemeral. I realize that such a multi-faceted definition defies quantification, but that’s how it should be. Let’s leave the hype and the commercial exploitation to the Red-bull Cold-rush.