25 years and still skiing | SteamboatToday.com

25 years and still skiing

Town Challenge marks anniversary with a few changes

— For the past 25 years, the Town Challenge Ski Racing Series has offered local recreational skiers an avenue to push their limits and test their skills.

But series organizers plan to make a few changes this year in hopes of injecting new life into the series and increasing the number of racers who participate.

“Our goal is to up the attendance,” Town Challenge committee member Stacy Childs said. “It’s been a summer-long project, but we are very excited about some of the changes.”

The Town Challenge is a series of races in which athletes are timed as they make their way through a pre-set course of gates. The events are open to athletes ages 18 and older in alpine, telemark and snowboarding classes. Athletes pay $15 a race or $121 for the season. Awards are handed out at each race and at the end of the season.

One of the biggest changes this season is that the Town Challenge will reduce the number of races from 13 to nine. Childs said officials plan to keep all of the series’ memorial races in place, but organizers hope to increase the importance of each race.

Better prize packages also will be part of this winter’s series. Officials have lined up several top ski manufacturers, including Volkl, Salomon, Elan, Fischer and Rossignol, to support the local series.

Each week, the series will hold a drawing to give away a pair of high-performance race skis. Volkl has agreed to donate skis for four races, Salomon will hand out skis at two races, and Elan, Fischer and Rossignol will each give away one pair of skis during the series.

There also will be drawings for a pair of Dal Bello ski boots, helmets and between $400 and $500 in prizes each week at the after-race party.

Rick DeVos, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s executive director, said he is excited about the changes to the series, which has been run by the club for years.

“We love this program and feel that it is a very important thing in our local community ” DeVos said. “I think the changes we see this winter are only the leading edge of what is going to come. We want to revamp the whole program a bit to make sure that it’s the best racing series that we can offer.”

DeVos said the ski racing community should expect to see more changes in the program in the future.

Those proposals include decreasing the minimum age requirement to allow younger racers to participate. There already are plans to condense current age divisions, and add a division for college racers. DeVos would like to see a few younger divisions added to the mix, but that isn’t expected to happen this year.

“Right now, we’ve got a great group of older racers who are very loyal to this program,” DeVos said. “But those younger ages are where the really big numbers are at. I know the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series has been able to add junior and kids divisions, and we’ve talked about doing the same thing.”

This year’s series will begin with the annual kickoff party from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 12. The first race is at 1 p.m. Dec. 30 at the Steamboat Ski Area. This year’s series will be split between the Steamboat and Howelsen ski areas. Four of the races will be held during the day, and five will take place under the lights at Howelsen Hill.

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