Legends of the Bump Line
Posted April 5, 2014
Back when the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge (BMMC) started, skis were long, straight and stiff—the kind of boards that would eat up most of today’s competitors in the sprawling mogul field that covers Outer Limits in a strip of frozen bubble wrap.
The first BMMC took place on Bear Mountain's Outer Limits in March, 1981. While the tools and competitors may have changed since the first BMMC, the primary objective has not: ski a flawless bump-to-bump run down Outer Limits as fast as possible without blowing up and yard-saling your gear all over the course.
It’s all about nailing your line. Seconds get swallowed up by the deep ravines between each mogul, like canyons cut by an ancient river. In every trough the skiers compress like heavy springs, and then recoil into the next turn and the next and the next. Stay in control and you’ve got a chance to win. Get too loose and it’s Game Over.
If the competition itself doesn’t get the butterflies twirling in a competitor’s stomach, the 1000’s of spectators below will. This is a spring celebration of epic proportions, and people come from near and far to witness courage and carnage while basking in the snow and sun.
The racers huddle up partway upslope. Friends cheer for each other and hug and laugh all while harboring a competitive fire inside that pushes them to win. Make no mistake, BMMC skiers take their bumps seriously. And their partying, too. At the BMMC, you can ski next to a legend while carving out your own, and then share a beer afterwards.
There is such a great bump skiing culture at Killington and we do have the best skiers in the East. —Guy Keefe
Husband and wife Guy and Jody Keefe are longtime Killington skiers and bona fide BMMC fanatics. They started competing in the BMMC about a decade ago, and were ecstatic to see the event return to Bear Mountain last spring. The staff from Killington's 4241' Magazine caught up with them at the event in 2013, where they shared some of the best (and wildest) experiences the BMMC has to offer.
4241’: What was the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge (BMMC) like back when you first started competing?
Guy Keefe: My first Mogul Challenge was back in 2002. I will never forget the feeling of standing in the gate and looking down at the crowd. There were literally thousands of people down there. The parking lot was jammed, people were tailgating, there were people hanging out and partying halfway up Outer Limits. It was a cross between a Jimmy Buffet Concert and an Olympic event.
4241': Were you stoked to see Killington bring the BMMC back?
GK: We were all very excited that the new management brought back the BMMC. This is a signature event with over 30 years of history other mountains would dream to have. When you look at the Cup and see names like Donna Weinbrecht, Jean Luc Brassard and all the other Nor Am, World Cup and U.S. Ski Team members, you know that you are participating in something special. It is a great feeling to know that someday my kids will have the opportunity to get their name on the cup.
4241’: What does it take to win? Are people pretty competitive about the BMMC?
JK: I haven't figured out what it takes to win yet. On Sunday for duals, you have to press. Each race needs to be skied a little harder, faster, smarter. I try to keep it light and fun but some definitely get super competitive. I know most of the girls I've skied up against and I love the chance to press them a little bit, and vice versa. It's fun ... maybe that's why I don't have a first place yet.
GK: I have never won the BMMC, so I clearly do not have the answer to the first part of this question. I do know that you need to elevate your skiing every round. The runs get faster and the jumps get bigger as the bracket shrinks. When you get down to the final four, you are skiing against the best bump skiers around. If you don’t lay it down, you are all done.
People are very competitive and supportive at the BMMC all at the same time. It sounds like this may be mutually exclusive, but it’s not. There is such a great bump skiing culture at Killington and we do have the best skiers in the East. We spend the early part of the season chasing the same lines and feeding off one another. However, usually around early March, things change a little bit and everyone gets a little more competitive. “Friendly” duels get a little faster and lines a little longer. You start looking around a bit to see who is skiing well. Things usually go back to normal the week after the challenge.
4241’: Is it a race? A party? Or both? How would you describe the scene?
JK: It is a race, a party, and a culture. It is the culmination point of the season’s offerings of good times and great friends. For so many of us here, we are part of a community based around our experiences shared on the mountain. There are friendships and bonds created here that do not exist outside of the mogul/mountain culture. The BMMC is the celebration of another season of these moments, and the people we share them with. The scene is festive and supportive amongst the competitors as well as the spectators.
4241': What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen go down at a BMMC?
JK: Most of the crazy stuff I've seen was post-event Saturday night. There's a lot of amp and adrenaline charging the BMMC. As an amateur skier, you don't have the chance to compete at this level and with so many people watching. I think Saturday's race is fueled by a huge surge of adrenaline that continues to climax throughout the night. I've seen people in costumes, people in diapers, people in bathing suits as well as birthday suits. Lots of fist pumping, and shotskis, and table fire jumping. Yes, I said table fire jumping.
GK: The craziest thing I remember was seeing a guy dressed up as Winnie The Pooh running around the BMMC, crashing people’s parties and causing mayhem. Poor Pooh was later spotted passed out in a snowbank on the edge of the parking lot.
It's pretty cool to know that Olympic athletes have started their path here doing this same event.—
JK: Skiing moguls at that level can only be done in a way that is full of charge. It is this charge that creates a spectacular showcase of amateur talent, coupled with an enormous amount of fun-loving, supportive spectators. BMMC is a time to come together as a community of skier people of Killington. We all love our mountain and the times that we share here—on and off the snow. It is a time to celebrate the season’s happening as well as say good-bye to some of our winter-only friendships. Until next year…
Original piece written for 4241' Magazine by Mike Horn.