Summer is in full swing on Mt. Hood. Bluebird days, harvest-worthy snow, big jumps, kinked rails and a rotating cast of talented skiers and campers make the volcano erupt with life. And this summer, Jason Arens, Windells’ Director of Marketing, and professional athlete Khai Krepela decided to heat things up in a new way with the “Khai Krepela’s Summer Classic,” a rail jam-style ski competition with a cash purse for the winners.
Both Arens and Krepela felt it was the right time to add a summer event to the program at Windells. “I’ve been working at Windells for nearly a decade and have never seen a ski event come to Mt. Hood,” commented Arens. Meanwhile, multiple events are held each summer at the nearby High Cascade Snowboard Camps, just across the glacier.
Planning for the event was a two-man job and it proved a challenge. “There were tons of issues leading up to the event,” noted Krepela. “We were having trouble getting sponsors… [and] we knew that if we couldn’t get some money on the line people wouldn’t take it seriously. Luckily, Saga Outerwear, Spy Optic and Phunkshun Wear got us to where we needed to be.”
Gaining sponsor-certified street cred, the Summer Classic was ready to take off and the event was an immediate success. With the help of the talented team of Windells Diggers, a hardcore group of terrain park visionaries that spend all summer on the glacier, the rail jam course was quickly established, giving invited pro skiers and campers a chance to show off their best tricks.
“Our aim was to gather the ski community in one place for a day of summer shredding,” said Arens. Echoing this thought, Krepela explained, “I’ve always thought there was a disconnect between the kids and the ‘pros’… so we wanted to create an event that involved both equally.”
Judged by the two aforementioned organizers, the competition featured athletes such as Foster Meeks, the first place overall winner, veteran Pete Arneson, X-Games medalist McRae Williams, up-and-comers Noah Curry, Ethan Swadburg and more. “I wanted to ski a little bit,” explained Krepela, “but I never got the chance to put my skis on because people were throwing down so hard I didn’t want to miss a single trick!”
With its first year in the books, Khai Krepela’s Summer Classic is already a hit in the ski community and it’s been confirmed that next year’s event is on the books. We’re excited to see how this classic rail jam will evolve in the future.