different departments, whether it’s the course design, TV lo-cation,
cabling and scaffolding, branding, all that.
“From there, we create a snowmaking plan and then wait
and see what Mother Nature brings us for the season. Our
crew then gets on site and we begin the building process for
all the venues.”
The SPT crew at X Games Aspen included 19 snowcat oper-ators,
who arrived on site on Jan. 4 and had everything ready
for the first practice day on Jan. 20. Castaneda notes that for
this year’s event, the SPT course builders switched things up
“Every year, we’ll change our Slopestyle jib course to keep it
fresh. We’ll find different inspiration from the athletes, from
their posts or just walking in the streets and seeing different
things,” he said.
Castaneda adds the jumps were also changed-up on the
Slopestyle course – a shark fin transition jump replaced the
traditional money booter jump at the end of the course, and a
fourth jump was also added to the overall jump line.
“Adding the fourth jump kind of tightened things up a bit,
so you had to be on your A game as an athlete, going from
jump to jump,” he said.
Something else that the X Games competitors had to con-tend
with this year was snow. According to Castaneda, the
weather was perfect for building during course preparations,
but once the event got underway, some white stuff appeared.
“One of the main challenges we typically face with any
event is the weather,” he said. “It’s funny, but the last thing you
want is snow once the build is done, when you’re TV ready.”
Castaneda says there wasn’t that much snow and it didn’t
fall every day in Aspen, but it did pile up in places due to
wind drift and required middle of the night and early morn-ing
shifts by SPT’s snow grooming crews.
“Every year we challenge ourselves to consult all the differ-ent
meteorologists and make the best call we can as to when
we should start the grooming process to ensure the best
course possible,” he said. “It can be very tricky. Mother Nature
can do whatever she wants and it’s a live show, so you’ve got
to make sure you’re ready.”
Castaneda notes that all of the machines used to build and
groom the courses at X Games Aspen were PistenBullys.
“We have a great partnership with PistenBully, so they are
our snowcat providers,” he said.
The snowcat fleet for X Games Aspen included three ve-hicles
that SPT travels the country with each year, a pair of
PistenBully 400 Park Pros and a PistenBully 400 Winch, as
well as a rental fleet of nine additional snowcats: four Pisten-
Bully 400 Park Pros, two PistenBully 400s, two PistenBully
600s and a PistonBully 100 transportation cat used to trans-port
“These cats have everything we want as far as being flex-ible
and agile enough to get in and out of the spaces that we
need to work in. They’re intuitive and the articulation of the
all-way blade is great for the precision shaping that we do,”
PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM ZIKAS
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