By Tess Weaver
On Saturday, March 24, the fourth annual Fallen Friends memorial event drew more than 100 costumed participants and throngs of sun-worshipping spectators to Aspen Highlands for a day of schussing and hilarity, all in the name of charity.
Local skier Pat Sewell created the event in conjunction with the Aspen Skiing Company in 2009, following the deaths of his close friends Johnny Nicoletta and Wallace Westfeldt, who both perished in the mountains in April of 2008. Sewell wanted to honor his friends and celebrate the mountain lifestyle that unites us all.
The course and format haven’t changed much over the past three years (neither has the weather--it’s been bluebird every year). There were more terrain park features on this year’s course, which runs down Scarlett’s Run in front of the Merry-Go-Round lodge at mid-mountain, but Sewell favors the mogul portion of the course. Teams utilized banked turns, moguls, rails and jumps to put together their best run during the jam session.
Peter Olenick and his spandex sporting peloton won “Best Team Spirit” for sending it (even the final kicker) on snow bikes.
Sewell’s team, “The Big Lebowski”, who dressed in robes and carried pins, bowling balls and even the rug, came in second overall. Unfortunately it was at the cost of one team member’s ACL.
This year’s event raised more than $5,000 benefitting two Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club scholarship funds. The Wallace Briggs Westfeldt Memorial Scholarship Fund awards a high school senior in the AVSC with college tuition aid, while the John Nicoletta Scholarship Fund helps underprivileged skiers and snowboarders participate in AVSC programming.
“Fallen Friends gets back to the basics,” says Sewell. “You don’t need to be throwing doubles or sending 80 foot backflips. If you have some friends, some moguls and some costumes, it’s going to be a good time.”
2012 Fallen Friends Results
1. Mobbins Boom Boom Huck Jam – Brandon Rohrbaugh, Madison Bailey, Blake Axelson, Chase DeMeulenaere
2. Lick the Stamp and Send It! – Joey Stokes, Bueno, Teddy Karlinski, Eric Angus, Bretton Louhan, Mike Emerson, Evan
3. The Big Lebowski – Pat Sewell, Ryan Gervis, Chris Tatsuno, Parker Olsen, Willie Volkhousen