UNDER THE SUN

Compromise and bring back the Bump-Off

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— Ever since the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. pulled the plug on the St. Patrick's Day Chute 1 Bump-Off a 13-year-old ski competition/party discontented locals have longed for its return.

Before the event is forever lost to the past, organizers should work with ski corp. to figure out how to revive this popular show.

Last season, ski corp. announced in February it had safety and liability concerns about the number of people under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the event.

Ski corp. does allow drinking on the mountain; there are bars at the top of the gondola. Officials said they also were concerned about the number of people at the event, which can draw between 2,000 and 4,000 people on any given year. Plus, the ride down from the chutes is one of the longer stretches in the entire resort.

With that many people on the mountain allegedly partying hard all day and then skiing down, ski corp.'s take shouldn't have been much of a shock. When it comes to a corporation dealing with a potential liability, no chances are taken.

Bump-Off organizers did agree to promote a substance-free event and focus on the skiing. However, they admitted forcing people not to bring alcohol would reduce the popularity.

Ski corp. originally wanted to hire $8,000 worth of law enforcement officers to ensure the "no substance abuse" policy was being followed and have the Bump-Off organizers foot the bill.

Besides being too much money for organizers, they also felt inviting that many law enforcement officers might put a damper on the event. Ski corp. did offer to move the event closer to the base of the mountain. But organizers pointed out there is no place as vertical as the chutes on the lower mountain.

The result was no Bump-Off, except for some renegade poster maker who threatened to have it anyway. U.S. Forest Service rangers and Routt County deputies showed up at the chutes on St. Patrick's Day just in case.

Again, it was all very unfortunate. The 2,000 to 4,000 people who go to the event easily doubles the attendance of any other competition on the mountain. It's also a great competitive event on highly technical terrain that could gain more interest with time, which is something I think this ski hill needs. Not to mention the Bump-Off is loved by many locals and is one of the last events of its kind here.

That is enough of a reason to pick up the issue again and for ski corp. to rethink how it might be done. All the issues have to be put on the table, and everyone involved, including ski corp. and the locals, will need to be willing to compromise.

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