Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. On Saturday, April 1, at Eldora Mountain Resort looked like a mid-winter-after-a-foot-of-powder, sunshine, blue sky day. It was anything but, yet the parking lots, even the North parking lot and all the way out on the road, were full.
The debut of the Ditchslap Banked Slalom presented by 10 Barrel Brewing Co. was no April Fool’s joke. It was some serious snowboard racing with about 150 young and old, men and women competing for a chunk of the $10,000 prize purse.
Eldora has always had a half pipe, and with some additional snow in the right places they were able to create berms, banks and even a few edges to do a flip from; which happened a few times when the racer knew he wasn’t within competitive time so he might as well have some fun and get a cheer from the crowd gathered at the finish.
There were a few inches of new snow on the course, but not the two feet of snow that had been forecasted. The racers started under grey skies but soon they were enveloped in a cloud, with visibility less than 100 yards. In the morning chill, the course was icy slick, demanding control more than speed. In the afternoon, even with cloud cover, the gates became slushy and slow, edge catchers.
Most of the participants came from out of town, but a few locals slid down Corkscrew, visible from the 10 Barrel Ski Beach at the bottom of the mountain. Everything was easily accessible.
Kelly Kramer of Nederland came in eighth place in her women’s age category out of a field of 20, cutting her second run by more than a second. Billy Laing, also of Nederland, competed in the Men’s 2 category and came in 24th out of 40, cutting his second run time by over one second. Both plan on competing again next year.
The first place men’s winner was Jake Black who finished with a combined time of 1:11.92; second place was Everett Simons with a combined time of 1:15.06; third place was Jacob Cary with a combined time of 1:18.46.
In the 35 and over category, Mike Day was first place with a combined time 1:14.84; Everett McEwan was second place with a combined time of 1:1.08; Alex Pashley was third with a combined time of 1:16.63.
In the women’s 1 category, 18-34, Ashley Wendorf was first place with a combined time of 1:23.37; Brittany Ashida was second with a time of 1:24.26 and Brie Pepe was third with a time of 1:25.28.
Women’s 35 and over winners were: first place, Jodi Koning with a time of 1:36.12; Kristin Turner with a time of 1:45.01 and Annette Rhodin in third place with a time of 1:49.89.
While the Ditchslap was taking place, the base of Eldora Mountain was bustling with kids and adult kids were having a blast with the oversized games. Little kids needed a bit of help with their giant croquet mallets as they tried to drive large balls through the hoops.
Loud crashes followed a wrong move in the Jenga game that in a few cases ended up being taller than the game players. They held their breath as they slid the blocks out and held it again as they added on to the top. Some of the players drew a crowd.
Bean bags were thrown in earnest and hoops were tossed at wooden towers. The games were enclosed in an area around the beer tent, as were tables and benches and an electric fire pit. A beach party on the snow.
Throughout, the fun and games meandered throwbacks to an earlier ski age, donning their neon-colored retro ski outfits, or just any neon outfits, adding to the festival feel.
Around 3 p.m., the awards were presented, with the first-place winners going home $2k richer and carrying a new snowboard. Well worth crushing a few gates on the ditch at Eldora. Raffle gifts included goggles and onesies and other fun prizes.
The inaugural Ditchslap was a success and organizers say it will be twice as big next year and would love to see more locals participate.