Over the past few days I’ve had a far more intimate encounter with the Red-bull Cold-rush than I could have anticipated. Despite my unapologetic denouncements of the event, I was engaged to help put in the up-track for the ski-touring portion of the event – actually getting paid to check out the proceedings. Lapping Mt Roberts I was astounded at the incredible and ultimately futile effort that went into constructing a massive jump at the base of Center Chute.
With powder snow and good visibility I can imagine how the Cold-rush might have succeeded as a media spectacle, but the deep pockets and slick promotional machinery of Red-bull and the desperation of Red Resort couldn’t do a thing to overcome the heinous (hard and lumpy) skiing conditions.
The ski-touring race component went off without incident on Friday morning. Challenged by Red’s ski-patrol director to best 90 minutes (Andrew and I had established a time of 79 minutes), six athletes succeeded and scored a bottle of vodka for their efforts. The winning time was 77 minutes – an impressive effort in some pretty heavy gear.
Both planned skiing events (Big Mountain and Big Air) were sensibly cancelled, and as a rather contrived substitute, a Chinese Downhill style race was held on one of the beginner runs after the lifts had closed on Saturday. The winners of both completed events won bar-tabs valid at the wind-up party, a Red-bull fueled dance-athon at the Base-lodge. The competitors I talked too seemed to have enjoyed their time, especially the parties. Nobody got injured and they all scored a pair of new Fritschi free-ride bindings for their efforts, but I doubt either of the Reds are feeling as good about how things played out.
I admit a perverse satisfaction in watching another high profile hyped-up marketing experiment not realize expectations, but it’ll take more than a couple of failures to get Red Resort’s management to overcome their addiction to sales and spin, and concentrate on the substance of actually enhancing the skier’s experience. It’s no small irony that the Paradise chair has been broken down (gearbox) for 4 days now, without any indication when it might again be operational.
It’s snowing and I’m off to ski pow at Wildhorse.