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Utah Gap Revival

    My arms are still tired. Yes it is August and its probably just that my arms feel tired when I look at these pictures of truck sized booters we built last winter. There are many many ways to "Full Send" on skis.  You can huck a cliff, hit the terrain park or as youll see below... spend days on end building a wedge to gap the terrain between it and a smooth powdery landing.

Ski Utah CliffNot a gap but so big it might as well be (and way less shoveling).                  Location: Snowbird Ski Resort

      After several years of below average snowfall mother nature once again blessed Utah with a big winter, bringing back to life some of the famous Little Cottonwood gap jumps. You all know Chad’s gap, arguably the most famous of the gaps, but there are a lot more in the vicinity and some that have not been built in multiple seasons.

Tim Durtschi Teddy Bear CrisisTeddy Bear Crisis was the inspiration for some of these gaps.

     The spark of inspiration started when Nicky Keefer in early December said he wanted to build Pyramid and try some new tricks. Pyramid probably gets built the most out of all the gaps, i've seen it get built every season by various crews. I was into it and was willing to share my experience and advice when building the jump. We got the Atomic Digital Styles crew involved for this one. Keefer was on one during this session and threw a new trick that has never been done on pyramid you’ll have to check out the Atomic webisode to see what he did later this fall.

Pyramid gap, the landing looks like a snow pyramid.

As the season went on it kept snowing and word got out about our Pyramid session on New years eve. We networked and recruited a team including @timmcchesney and @ian.t.hamilton up to upper Flagstaff to build one of the most classic gap jumps in Utah. It has been a Jump that has been on my list for a long time after seeing it hit filmed with the Kris Ostness crew in the early 2000’s.

           The in-run is Short and sweet.

Not many people are willing to shovel for hours and hours and hours to craft this behemoth but thankfully I had the help of @thaynerich who actually came up with the idea to revive the gap. Thayne is a shoveling machine and it was his cordination and utter brawn that got this thing ready to rock in a timely fashion. It is a perfect gully gap with a super steep inure and a g-force takeoff. It is such a cool feeling to accelerate super fast dropping into the gully and just launching, it is a unique gap for sure, here is some footage of the session!

                Gap Selfie. the Photo to watch some Footage of the gap.

Some amazing tricks have been done on this jump and during our session more were added to the list. I was lucky enough to work with Kris Ostness and Steve Rozendaal in Utah over the years and they have shared their knowledge of the gaps along with good friend and photographer Brent Benson. Benson also had an idea for a gap that he has had in the back of his head for 20 some years since he moved to Utah from New York back in the 90’s. This gap is the Upper section of the Sarlacc pit which is a big mine excavation from the 1800’s mining boom in the Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Tim Durtschi BackflipThe lower Sarlacc pit jump is still pretty big.

The lower Sarlacc has been hit but the upper gap remained unbuilt until this season. The reason in Bensons words:

“Athletes I have shown this to always have excuses- the landing is too short and flat, the step-down (at 120 feet) is also not appealing, along with the 3 day shoveling it takes to flatten out the bumpy in-run.” 

I gave it a look after hitting the lower jump and coming off the energy of an amazing session on that jump, I was motivated to start shoveling and basically get the ball rolling on the project. I got Nicky Keefer to come out and take a look at the gap and he was willing to hit it with me so I didn’t have to take on the new gap solo. 

Tim Durtschi on Benson's Gap

The Upper Sarlacc Pit AKA the Benson's gap is BIGGER

Pioneering a new gap was just plain scary and it was good to have a skier like Nicky there to keep things positive and upbeat. There is a lot of factors involved during a big build like this. The snow quality has to stay prime, if the temps rise and your landing gets to warm it can make all the shoveling for nothing. Keeping the crew motivated is no simple task and Benson has no qualms with telling us to “shut up and shovel” when we get distracted or get in arguments on how to build the jump.  

The Teddy bear is on the lower kicker... perspective...

There are still more on the list and excited to have these good times in the gulch. This has been such a good season to get these done and checked off the list, it takes a lot of hard work and I cannot thank the filmers and athletes enough for putting in the hard work to make these jumps possible!  

 GoPro Footage of the Gap jumps.

About The Author

stash member Tim Durtschi