Planning to watch the Extremes this year? Bring a BBQ but not a bottle

Resort wants a friendlier environment

A series of extreme skiing and snowboarding competitions kicks off this week at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, but this year the resort will be prohibiting people from bringing their own alcohol to the events, which are held up on the ski area’s infamous “Extreme Limits” terrain.  Instead, the resort will be setting up a beer garden where beverages can be purchased with an ID.




Since CBMR hosted the first-ever extreme skiing competition 17 years ago, the events have become more and more popular as a spectator sport. Nowadays spectators bring lawn chairs, portable grills, and plenty of booze.  Oftentimes there are acre-wide snowball fights.   
By prohibiting people from bringing their own alcohol and keeping a close eye on the rowdiness of the crowd, resort officials hope the events will be a more comfortable experience for visitors who may want to watch. They also hope to cut back on the number of people skiing back down the hill intoxicated.  
CBMR chief operating officer Ken Stone says, “We’re seeing larger and larger crowds all the time, which is great, but we want to make sure the events and the spectator portion of this is good for everybody who comes, from families, individuals and guests visiting as well as our local audience.” Stone also says that since Mountain Sports International (MSI) has taken the role of organizing and promoting the events, the Extremes now draw a larger field of competitors who come from across the country and around the world. Those competitors often bring their families, he says.  
In addition to competitors’ families and local fans, the Extremes also draw a few visiting tourists who want to catch a piece of the action.  MSI media and communications manager Cara Williams says, “You have some people just kind of skiing by, who don’t really know what’s going on, but they stop and watch a bit.  Having that audience is a great way for our sport to grow.”  Williams says many skiers have no idea what “Extreme” competitions are.  
Stone agrees.  “I think we’re attracting a lot of people who are here already on vacation that want to see an extreme event and see what real great skiing or snowboarding is all about,” he says.  
Stone says visiting skiers may have been turned away in the past by the atmosphere and raucous crowd. “We decided last year we would put some controls in place,” Stone says.
“In the past, not every year, but sometimes, these things have gotten a little out of hand.  People are in a party atmosphere and attitude… I don’t think it was always comfortable for people to come up there with their family when there is foul language, pot smoking, drunk people up there, people mooning each other and all those types of things that come out of this,” he says.
Williams says some spectators will pack a backpack full of beer and bring it to the venue, but she says MSI does not condone skiing drunk or illegal activities.
 “We’ve had problems in the past with significantly intoxicated people at the ski area,” says ski patrol director Erik Fortsythe.  He says having those intoxicated people skiing back to the base area after the events, “decreases the level of safety for everybody.”  
Stone says during the three extreme skiing and snowboarding events this year, CBMR will be monitoring the crowds and making sure people aren’t bringing their own alcohol.  CBMR will have a “beer garden” at the venue where audiences can buy their adult libations.  ID’s will be required to purchase alcohol and Stone says the bartenders won’t over serve people who are already intoxicated.  There will also be food available for purchase, but the resort will only be prohibiting spectators from bringing alcohol.
Proceeds from the beer garden for the events this year will benefit the Adaptive Sports Center.  Stone says setting up a charity or non-profit benefit makes it easier to obtain a liquor license for the beer garden. “In the future we’ll look at other causes and other charities,” he says.  
Furthermore, Stone says there will also be Forest Service law enforcement officers on the slopes to help monitor the crowds for any illegal activity.  
Other than that, there won’t be any additional ropes or seating restrictions at the venue.  
“We’re not trying to take the fun out, we’re trying to make it fun for a lot more people,” Stone says. “It’s great to have the events, but if we want to continue to have these events we have to have some controls.”
The North Face Masters of Snowboarding kicks off this Friday and continues on Saturday.  The U.S. Freeskiing Extremes will take place next week.  Check out the Sports Barrel coverage next week of the North Face Masters, and come cheer on the local rippers (including this writer / rider).

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