Steamboat Springs On what would have been its 13th year, the St. Patrick's Day Chute 1 Bump-Off has been canceled and the future doesn't look good for the event ever to be held at that location again.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said the large number of people drinking alcohol in that location of the ski resort, just north of Buddy's Run, is not a safe situation. Two years ago nearly 4,000 people came to the Bump-Off. Last year about 2,500 showed up, despite miserable conditions. The idea of a group that size skiing down after many of them had been drinking most of the morning and afternoon doesn't sit well with the Ski Corp.
"All those factors have been a concern for us in the last few years," Lane said.
Because St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year, the concerns were amplified with the anticipation of a higher number of people skiing the mountain who would not be participating in the Bump-Off.
The event, which started as a grass-roots competition put on by local residents, features skiers and snowboarders descending one of the hardest runs on the mountain, two at a time.
As the popularity of the event increased, so did the party at the bottom of the Chute 1, where spectators gather to watch the skiers.
After meeting with event organizers, the Ski Corp., the Forest Service and the Routt County Sheriff's Office on Friday collectively decided to cancel the Bump-Off.
"We didn't think the organizers could adequately address the concerns," Lane said. "Safety is our primary concern. We are responsible for the safety of our guests on the mountain."
Lane said Ski Corp. would consider allowing the event if the location could be changed to the lower mountain, where it would not be so far away from the base of the ski resort.
The organizers didn't like the idea of moving.
Brian Harvey has organized the Bump-Off for six years and as radio station manager of KFMU, also has helped promote it.
"I agree with the concerns but I don't necessarily agree with canceling the event," he said.
The location couldn't be changed because that part of the mountain is the only steep, "extreme" terrain on the ski resort. He said having it on the lower mountain just wouldn't work.
"Lets be honest," Harvey said. "Steamboat is a flat mountain and moving the Bump-Off to the lower mountain would make it lose its extreme value."
Harvey said the organizers wanted to promote the Bump-Off as a substance-free event and focus more on the skiers and riders, instead of the party at the bottom of run.
"Of course, that law is going to be broken. We'd be crazy to think that we could eliminate it completely," Harvey said of the substance use.
However, increasing security at the event would reduce the drinking and help solve the problem, he said.
When Ski Corp. was still considering holding the event, it wanted to hire police officers to monitor the crowd. Officials suggested one police officer for every 250 people.
"We didn't feel comfortable as organizers with that situation," Harvey said.
Organizers would have hired more security personal, but having police officers "with guns" at the event may have created a "negative" situation, Harvey said. It also would have cost them $8,000, which would have been difficult to raise.
Routt County Sheriff John Warner said he just wouldn't have the on-duty staff to cover the event.
"It's just one of those unfortunate situations," he said.
However, Warner said the police presence is necessary.
"The event, in my opinion, has become unmanageable," he said.
Harvey said he hoped something could be worked out to keep the Bump-Off on Chute 1.
With the popularity and success of extreme sporting events on television, like the X-Games, the Bump-Off could be the most successful competitions held at the resort and could gain television coverage.
Lane said the location of the event could never make that possible.
"That location is hard for us to get the proper resources up there," Lane said. "But we are always open to listening to people who have ideas for other events on the mountain."
"I think it's a bummer," said Pat Berka.
Berka has participated in the event eight times and has won it three times.
Harvey said he doesn't know if this means the end of the Chute 1 Bump-Off.
As far as the Ski Corp. is concerned, Lane said, the end of the Bump-Off at Chute 1 was last year.