New Steamboat Ski Ascent Series begins Thursday at Steamboat Resort |

New Steamboat Ski Ascent Series begins Thursday at Steamboat Resort

Racers take off from the starting line during Cody’s Challenge at Steamboat Resort. The new Steamboat Ski Ascent series kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at Steamboat Resort and concludes with Cody’s Challenge in April. (File photo by Joel Reichenberger)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The new Steamboat Ski Ascent Series is set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at Steamboat Resort.

The series features 5- to 6-mile skinning courses on the mountain once a month from December through April, concluding with Cody’s Challenge on April 6, 2019. Signups are $10 and run from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m. at the Steamboat Ski Patrol locker room. The race begins at 6 p.m. at the base of the ski resort by the stage.

“I think it’s just a wintertime workout. It’s like mountain biking in the summertime,” Ski Ascent Series organizer Alex Pond said. “You get a good workout, you end up at the top of a mountain, and you get great views. You watch the sunrise in the morning or watch the sunsets in the afternoon.”

This Thursday, skiers will participate for a special cause. Proceeds from race registration fees and any additional donations made by participants will benefit the family of Drew Rushton. Drew, 10, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 2 due to a pulmonary veno-occlusive disease caused by aplastic anemia.

If you go

What: Steamboat Ski Ascent Series

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13

Where: Steamboat Resort

How to register: Sign up at 5:15 p.m. at Ski Patrol locker room

Cost: $10

Pond said the race typically attracts 10 to 15 people, but he’s hoping it grows, especially since they are kicking off the season by donating to a charitable cause.

Ski mountaineering, primarily a European sport, is starting to make waves in the mountain regions of America, and Steamboat Resort has a lot of trails to offer.

“We would like to see as many people as we see climbing Heavenly Daze every morning — anywhere from 50 to 100 people,” Pond said. “The more we build it up, the more we can do things like that and create an event that is for a cause.”

The Steamboat Ski Ascent Series will release courses on its Facebook page on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Routes are on the mountain but stray away from the typical climbs.

Pond encourages participants to bring a helmet and headlamp, as well as a backpack with an extra coat and gloves. Following the race’s completion, skiers will ski down the open runs and end up at the bottom of the mountain where there are lights.

“Our courses that we try to set up go different routes on the ski area, so it feels like more of a backcountry excursion than just climbing up a groomed run,” Pond said. “It’s a little bit more technical. It’s endurance up, and it’s fun skiing down.”

While this is the first event of the series, Pond said to keep on the lookout for upcoming events at Howelsen Hill. The series hopes to host companies that can demo new, lightweight ski gear used for the sport.

Anyone who participates in the ski series is allowed to use the ski of their preference, including telemark, split boards or heavier skis.

The series is also great training for Cody’s Challenge in April, a longer ascent race at Steamboat Resort that raises money for the Cody St. John Memorial Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to professional ski patrollers for continuing medical education.

“Just come out and come follow our tracks,” Pond said. “And if at any moment, you’re like, ‘Eh, I’m kind of done,’ you can always turn around because you’re on the ski resort, and you can pop back out on the run and ski to the bottom.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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