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Red Bull readies for return to Nelson area
Nelson will be back in the extreme sport spotlight this winter as Red Bull prepares to set up for another snowboard series at Baldface Lodge.
While the name of this year’s event is still being crafted by organizers, Baldface owner Jeff Pensiero couldn’t be happier to share his business with Red Bull again.
Last year’s competition — the Signature Series — was created by one of the world’s best snowboarders Travis Rice and broadcast on a two-hour NBC television special.
For weeks and months prior to the event, builders, competitors, NBC crew and Red Bull staff and organizers filled Nelson hotel rooms, ate in local restaurants and left with rave reviews of the area.
“All the people involved spent so much money in town when they were here,” said Pensiero.
“They went home with nothing but the best things to say about Nelson. They also just raved about Whitewater and Red Mountain. We were happy we could help share our community and the region.”
This year Red Bull is shifting the focus to live Internet coverage — similar to what was seen in their invite-only freeride mountain bike competition called the Rampage — with a one-hour TV show on NBC.
“That is the big push,” said Pensiero. “They did that with the Red Bull Rampage. They are going to keep pushing the live feeds and up-to-the-minute scoring. The TV show is going to have a lot more back story to it instead of just showing the runs.
“I think the broadcast is going to have a piece on Nelson, Baldface, the builders and a couple of the competitors. I think it’s going to be a really great event and the live part is going to be exciting.”
Last year Pensiero encouraged NBC to shoot whatever interviews they did in Nelson, but said he hopes there will be more highlights and footage showcasing the community and region.
Since Baldface began working with Red Bull for the signature series, Pensiero has had the opportunity to work with some of the best in the snowboard and ski industry which is inspiring him with his business.
“I have had to work really hard to build my company,” said Pensiero. “I have used every resource I have access to, and then Red Bull comes in and they spend massive amounts of money to create some really fun projects.
“It’s empowering to work with people like that and see how they’ve built their business. It really inspires me to try similar things with my business.”
As things go with Red Bull, they are constantly pushing the boundaries of extreme sports and while scenes from last year’s competition made amateur snowboarders tremble, this year Pensiero said they are taking it even further.
The course being built for this year’s event will not only include one similar to last year, but an additional component by the same people who create courses for the X Games.
“The bottom part of the course is going to be on an Olympic level,” said Pensiero. “It’s going to be unbelievable what they build.”
Part of the team who came up to Baldface this week with Red Bull was Frank Wells with Snow Park Technologies.
Snow Park Technologies are the creators of over 250 competition courses including all of the Winter X Games and the Burton US Open.
“I was talking with [Wells], who is one of the best snow cat park builders in the world, and he has been everywhere and done everything,” said Pensiero. “To get that guy’s eyes on my business and to talk about the snowboard and ski industry is an amazing opportunity.”
Baldface annually sells out for the winter and routinely appears in ski and snowboard magazines, but their involvement with Red Bull and NBC has brought Baldface to a whole new audience.
“Whenever we get coverage in Powder Magazine or Kootenay Mountain Culture we always hear from our friends in the industry,” said Pensiero.
“It is always rewarding to appear in any magazine, but after the Signature series my first grade teacher wrote me an email and said she saw me on TV, and friends from grade school have reached out. Now it’s not just the industry people, skiers and snowboarders who know us, it’s so much bigger.”
Baldface has since received inquiries about weddings, retreats and corporate gatherings which has been a huge asset in its off-season.