OUR VIEW: Bumped off

of the annual Bump-Off party on the ski mountain


St. Patrick's luck ran out this winter in what would have been the 13th year of the Chute 1 Bump Off. The grass-roots celebration of skill on snow drew hundreds, make that thousands, of people every March 17 to the Steamboat Ski Area's upper mountain.
They came to watch talented (and a little bit touched) skiers and riders race down a mogul field on one of Steamboat's toughest runs and catch air on mid-slope jumps.
In recent years, the crowd of spectators below Chute 1 has grown into the thousands.
The problem for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is that as the popularity of the event has grown, so has the party. Many (and probably most) of the people who watched the Bump Off left in an altered mental state. In a word, the crowd was full of partyers. And it was those partyers, eventually, who crashed the party.
This year, the ski area decided it had looked away long enough. No longer could it allow hundreds of people to party uncontrolled on the upper mountain; not with the liability concerns that come when those same people head downhill on skis and snowboards.
So it canceled the event.
Already this year, two people have lost their lives on Mount Werner. The ski area is right to try to do whatever it can to prevent anyone else from dying.
Organizers of the Bump Off have said the Chutes are the only "extreme" place on the mountain, and therefore the only place they can hold the event.
If the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex on the lower mountain can host world-class bump competitions, it certainly is extreme enough for a locals mogul event.
The problem for Bump Off advocates is that the lower mountain is not the perfect place to party.
When the ski area was still considering holding the event, ski area officials wanted Bump Off to hire lawmen to monitor the crowd. Officials suggested one police officer for every 250 people.
"We didn't feel comfortable as organizers with that situation," said one of the Bump Off leaders.
That says it all.
The organizers of the Bump Off wanted to hold their kind of party on public land and put the ski area at risk. That position was unreasonable.
Cancelling the event wasn't.


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