The Epic Local Pass links together more than just turns and carves by providing access to a wide variety of mountains throughout Colorado.
Colorado is recognized by world-class athletes for producing some of the largest, most diverse snowboarding terrain in the world — Olympians from around the globe come to the 11 mountains on the Epic Local Pass to train for competitions.
Colorado State University Snowboarding Team President Joel Jenks said he buys the Epic Local Pass because of the access it gives to mountains across Colorado.
“As an active member of the snowboard community, the pass really allows for this amount of freedom among riders,” Jenks wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It’s almost like skateboarding in that you can call up the homies and decide which park you want to skate for the day.”
Two-time Slopestyle World Champion and 2014 Team Canada Slopestyle Olympic finalist Spencer O’Brien travels to Colorado to train for competitions. She said some of the best riding in the world comes from the Epic Local Pass.
“Some of the best parks and pipes in the world are in Colorado, as well as the majority of the big competitions,” O’Brien said. “It just makes sense for us to train in the climate and snow conditions where most of our important events are held.”
The Epic Local Pass provides unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Afton Alps, Mount Brighton, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, along with a total of 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek and unlimited riding starting in April to those who bought their passes before May 25. The Epic Local Pass costs $529. A $50 discount is offered to students who present their IDs when purchasing their passes.
“Those are three of the biggest events in the world, so I think it’s a testament to just how good Colorado is for freestyle riding,” O’Brien said. “I’ve spent the better part of the last decade in Colorado during the winter because of the quality of parks. It’s a great place to train.”
Although being able to create diverse terrain park features is a unique feature to mountains, being able to do so while keeping them safe for riders may be just as important. Professional snowboarder Sandra Hillen said Breckenridge differentiates itself from other mountains by creating safer features.
“A lot of things need to match up to make things as safe as possible for the athletes, and Breck has got that dialed,” Hillen said. “The consistency of the quality of the parks is why athletes flock here.”
Terrain parks at Breckenridge provided 14 jumps, a 22-foot halfpipe and a combination of more than 75 rails, boxes and jibs in the 2014-15 season.
“When I was training for the Olympic qualifiers for Team Mexico, I was spending most of my time in Breck,” Hillen said. “It was the best place to learn and hitting jumps like those feels like a luxury in the air. They are some of the smoothest jumps on the planet.”
Consistent temperatures and snowfall helped Colorado’s terrain parks become so successful, said Mark Hoyt, the second snowboarder in the world to land a frontside triple cork 1440.
“Colorado has the most consistent temperatures and some of the more consistent snowfall around,” Hoyt said. “It always gets cold, so tons of snowmaking can happen, which leads to the best terrain parks in the world.”
Colorado is also known by professionals for receiving some of the first snowfall, allowing its mountains to open before any others in North America. Arapahoe Basin was the first to open Oct. 17 last year.
“Colorado also has such a long season,” Hillen said. “If you are really trying to get as many days on the mountain as possible, you can start as early as mid-October at Abasin, which is pretty incredible to have your snowboard legs back before Halloween. And, the season ends as late June, even longer now since summer snowboard camps are starting to take off.”
Hillen coaches at High Cascade Summer Snowboarding Camp in Government Camp, Oregon.
Olympian Louie Vito said since mountains in Colorado are able to open up so early, they are able to create preseason terrain park features.
“I start early-season riding there because they have had the first halfpipe in the U.S. for the last couple years and the first contest of the year is Dew Tour in Breck,” Vito said, who took fifth place in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for Team USA in the Men’s Halfpipe Finals.
Snowboarders may be able to experience the incredible riding for themselves starting this weekend if Arapahoe Basin has enough snow to open for the 2015-16 season.
“Besides the quality and the incredible amount of snow Colorado gets, I think there is a kind of community in the mountains here that has been created from the snow sports industry and the collection of people with common interests,” Jenks wrote.
Collegian Photo Editor Abbie Parr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AbbsParr.