Monday, November 19, 2018
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Big Air on Elk: Flyin’ High

This Saturday, March 8, Elk Avenue transforms into a giant 55-foot gap jump constructed in the middle of downtown from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., as high flyin’ snow athletes are launched into the air. On the sidelines are thousands of screaming spectators, live music, and, of course, beer, as Big Air on Elk kicks off its seventh year.
Colorado FreeSkier, in conjunction Two Plank Productions, hosts the event where high speed snowmobiles rocket skiers and boarders down the snow packed street to hurl themselves high above the crowd. If standing in a cheering crowd is not your thing, there will be a live stream of the pre-event practice then a full live webcast for the official competition, awards, and closing ceremony event provided by Two Plank Productions. The live streaming webcast will be broadcasting in all the bars and most of the restaurants as well so you can still catch the excitement of the moment but cozied up on your favorite bar stool.
Event coordinator Gabe Martin is excited about this year’s participants and event and notes, “Athletes will be performing tricks that include cork 7, front flips, back flips and, of course, spin to win. This year we’ve added a beer garden serving Odell’s on the south side of Elk. The proceeds will benefit the non-profit Oh Be Dogful Rescue. Every year the event helps out local non profits like the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, Snow Sports Foundation and we plan to help out other non-profits in the future, like the CB Land Trust.”
Martin says they like to limit the event to about twenty participants, “That way everybody gets familiar with the jump and they can put on a good show. The athletes are coming from Vail, Summit County, Durango, and many locals. Aaron Blunck won the first two Big Air events we put on five years ago,” Martin notes, explaining that the current collaboration took over the event five years ago when the then very young Olympian and local hero wowed the crowd. “We might have an Aaron Blunck showing… we’re hoping he comes by to say hello.” Martin, whose birthday also falls on Saturday, will be opening the event by singing the national anthem. He points out that there’ll be ticketed giveaways of prizes like Smith Optic Backpacks stuffed with tons of ski industry schwag and local gift certificates from their sponsors, as well as hats and tee-shirts for purchase.
Corey Tibljas splits the duties of running the event with Martin and Martin explains, “I’m the face of it, going to the town council meetings and organizing the department heads, permits, logistics, and sponsors while Corey does the behind the scenes coordination from the lights and generators, to all the camera crews and production.” This year Big Air and the Town of CB worked through a consultant to ensure the event was even safer. “The town council paid for that third party to take a look at the event. We were deemed safe but the one thing they wanted was more barricades between snowmobiles and spectators. That increased the costs of the event to secure the special barricades, but the barricades were then donated by Bill Lacy. He donates his workers and equipment to bring in the snow,” Martin says appreciatively and adds, “It takes two large front end loaders and his guys to do it, then they bring in dump trucks to take it out after the event is over. We help out the town by taking the snow from their snow storage areas and using it, then we take it out by the school and dump it. Lacy donates all that time and equipment.” Martin feels that the town and locals are completely behind the event in helping to make it work. “It’s really cool that everyone comes together, people really want to make it happen.” Martin also points out that the event promotes local business and Big Air encourages people to head into the local waterholes and eateries.
“The town and the business owners love this event as do the spectators. It’s another event that makes this town unique. This is one of our pinnacle events like Vinotok and Alley Loop. There are thousands of spectators lining the streets and in the bars and restaurants watching, and thousands more logging onto the live webcast to watch it. It’s grown every year,” he says of the spring break shindig. You can watch the webcast live online at ColoradoFreeSkier.com and TwoPlank.com, and also get more information on the event.

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