3rd annual Ski Ascent Series is back bigger than ever
Mother Nature delivered snow just in time for the first Ski Ascent Series race of the year.
On Thursday, the series began with 62 people participating in the Howelsen Hustle Circuit. The course was slightly modified due to the amount of snow, but there was enough for competitors to ski up the terrain park, along the ridge and then down the face.
Howelsen Hill employees Robbie Shine and Ben Glassmeyer worked tirelessly to not only groom their typical routes at Howelsen, but the course as well.
The circuit was the first of five scheduled races this year, including two at Howelsen Hill. Last year, the series was smaller with a limited number of people in each race. This year, the series is back in full force with no limits on how many people can participate.
“I think it’s going to be really fun, and seeing so many new faces, it’s just going to get more and more people excited about (ski mountaineering),” said Sarah Glassmeyer, one of the series directors. “It’s really cool to have people see the joy of it. I think sometimes it can be a little intimidating.”
Sarah Glassmeyer and Emily Hines work for the city of Steamboat Springs and are partnering with Charlie MacArthur and Alex Pond, who helped start a grassroots series at Steamboat Resort years ago. The pair are passionate advocates for the uphill and ski mountaineering communities.
Sarah Glassmeyer took over the Town Challenge mountain bike races this past summer and worked to make the event less intimidating. She’s hoping to accomplish the same for the Ski Ascent Series. Also, there are new categories this year, making the series more accessible for anyone interested in giving it a shot.
This year, the sport heavy metal/splitboard category is new, giving people with telemark, Alpine touring gear or split boards their own division. There are also pro/open, sport and junior divisions.
Eliza Linford, 12, was slightly intimidated Thursday night, but not to the point of turning away. She competed in her first race alongside her brother Grant and father Newel. Newel has participated in many races, just as Grant has.
“I got into the backcountry team for (Steamboat Springs) Winter Sports Club,” Grant said. “And my Dad started doing backcountry the same year I did. He tried one of these races, and he liked it so much he told me about it.”
Newel said he enjoys the races because it’s a great social event that allows him to catch up with friends and engage in some friendly competition.
Newel and Jon Wade, a sponsor of the series, were exchanging blows ahead of the race, teasing at who would be faster. Wade started competing in the races three years ago and his business, The Steamboat Group, sponsors the event, providing beacons and shovels as prizes for each race.
“This was just meant to be,” he said of the series. “I love that this group put it together because our town is in, and we like to do cool stuff, and we like to push ourselves. It’s such a fit for our culture. I’m so psyched every time I come out here.”
Thursday’s race field was the largest Sarah Glassmeyer had ever seen. She expects future races to be even more popular, since there will be more snow.
The series continues Jan. 13 at Steamboat Resort with the Vertigo Craze. Then competitors return to Howelsen on Feb. 10 with the Emerald Mountain Tour before going back to the resort March 10 for the Daze Field Blowout and March 24 for the season-concluding Sunset Vertical.
“I really think the ones at Howelsen are super fun, especially since they’re spectator friendly,” Sarah Glassmeyer said. “You’ll see everyone come through, two laps, three laps or five. The ones at Mount Werner are cool because they have more vertical, but I just love Howelsen, so it’s fun to be here.”
For results of the Howelsen Hustle Circuit, TownChallenge.com/results.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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