Venture/Ska party means ski season has begun

Ski season is here. And while it may have snowed a handful of times since August, the official kickoff to Silverton Mountain’s season will come Saturday.

Once again, the Downtown Lowdown is on the road. This week, it’s downtown Silverton, where lovers of local beer, local snowboards and local music will be for Ska Brewing and Venture Snowboard’s seventh annual celebration of winter. It serves as the debut of Ska’s winter beer and also kicks off the Silverton ski and boarding season.

The party will feature local country-rock band Farmington Hill, along with local rock trio The Crags. Farmington Hill is a mishmash of local bands, featuring Freeman Social members Mike Mantineo on drums, Katie Iudice on bass and Paul “Bubba” Iudice on vocals and guitars. The remaining members are head Lawn Chair King Erik Nordstrom on guitar and vocals and Kelly Rogers on guitar and lap steel. The Crags are husband and wife Tracy and John Ford on guitar/vocals and drums and Lawn Chair King Dan Leek on bass.

The Crags’ debut release, “Big Divide” has gained some moderate attention through air play on radio stations throughout the state. Farmington Hill’s debut should be out sometime in 2012.

The collaboration between brewery and snowboard shop on a season kickoff party began when the Ska brewery owners met Venture Snowboards owners Klemens and Lisa Branner.

“When we first met Lisa and Klem, we realized that they were equally as passionate about what they did and where they did it,” said Dave Thibodeau, one of the three owners of Ska. “We were also both very excited when winter rolled around. We started talking about handcrafting beers and boards in the mighty San Juans and knew we had to do something together. What better than a Ska snowboard and a Venture beer season kick-off party.”

Ska has always had a home in Bodo Park. Venture Snowboards has bounced around locations, beginning in Denver in 1999, moving to Durango in 2002 and finally settling in Silverton in 2007. Both businesses run environmentally friendly practices, and both produce a popular product.

In places such as Texas, Oklahoma and New York, there are former Durango residents who would hire Bandit and Snowman to provide them with a pallet or two of Pinstripe. For Venture, the 1,100 snowboards produced this year will go quickly; they come close to selling out what they produce annually by winter’s start, with orders coming in for the forthcoming season’s models in the summer. Venture sells all over the world, shipping boards nationwide as well as to New Zealand, Australia, Japan and throughout Europe.

Also at the party, someone will win the annual one-of-a-kind Ska/Venture snowboard, which already is a collector’s item.

Those unable to make the trip north can catch the same lineup of bands Dec. 10 at The Summit.

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at