The 62nd annual Wintersköl kicked off on Thursday, with the crowning of the winter festival’s king and queen — Travis McLain and Susan Cross.
McLain, owner of Radio Boardshop, and Cross, Buttermilk mountain manager, were honored at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association luncheon for their commitment to the community and volunteerism.
McLain was born and raised in Aspen. He attended Aspen High School for one year before moving to Vermont to attend a snowboarding academy. He competed in the World Cup and X Games, and has been an announcer for the annual ESPN event. He moved back to Aspen in 2004, and became a coach for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC). He opened his snowboarding shop in 2005. He also is involved in the Aspen Historical Society and hosts a skateboarding camp in the summer.
Cross, a native of Boston, moved to Aspen in 1991, after living in Vermont. She worked her way up in skier services at the Aspen Skiing Co., becoming director in 1995.
In 2011, Cross was promoted to Buttermilk’s mountain manager. She is the first woman to ever become a mountain manager at the SkiCo.
She also volunteers for Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, a nonprofit that builds and restores area trails. Cross serves on the Snowmass citizen grant review committee and volunteers with the Forest Service for its bridge projects.
Roxy’s Market was named the “emerging business of the year;” Ecos Environmental & Disaster Restoration was named the “business of the year;” and Theatre Aspen was named “nonprofit of the year.”
This weekend’s Wintersköl has more events than previous years, with dozens spread out over the course of the four-day event, said Jennifer Albright Carney, vice president of event marketing at ACRA.
She and the special events team start planning for this weekend’s events in September. ACRA’s budget for the festival is $76,000, of which about $20,000 is for Saturday night’s fireworks display. The rest are expenses of putting on the festival, including advertising for the event, as well as tent rentals and hundreds of compostable soup spoons for today’s Soupsköl.
From 4-6 p.m., Aspen’s 10th annual soup cook-off will be held on Cooper Avenue and Hunter Street. Soupsköl is a contest judged by the public to determine which restaurant has the best soup. Each restaurant offers a free sample of their soup. Participants must text from their phones to vote for their favorite; the winner gets the coveted Soup Bowl trophy and bragging rights for the next year.
There are a host of other entities that organize events around Wintersköl that are not part of ACRA’s budget, such as AVSC’s Nordic Bonfire Dinner at the Aspen Cross Country Center on Saturday night and Anderson Ranch Art Center’s Wintersculpt.
Today and Saturday, four adult teams and six middle school teams will brave the weather to carve a cube of snow on Aspen’s pedestrian malls.
The adult teams have 48 hours starting on Thursday afternoon and ending at 4 p.m. on Saturday to complete their works. Some teams work all night. The 2013 Wintersköl and Wintersculpt theme is Vintage Spirit, and sculptures will reflect that theme. Each adult team received a $200 stipend, in addition to the chance to win the $600 prize for first place.
Sculptures will be judged on Saturday at 4 p.m. and awards will be announced at 5 p.m. at the CP Burger skating party located at the Silver Circle Ice Rink.
The middle school teams will sculpt their creations for Anderson Ranch Kidsculpt today, starting at 9:30 a.m. in front of McDonalds, with judging to follow at 12:30 p.m. Each participating school receives a $250 cash prize for its school art program. Sponsors include Claudia Potamkin and The Thrift Shop of Aspen. Starbucks is an in-kind donor.
For a schedule of the weekend’s activities, log onto aspenchamber.org.