Get competitive this weekend in ski races at Catamount, Bluebird

Bluebird Backcountry is hosting the first of two ski mountaineering races this weekend Sunday, Jan. 30.
Bluebird Backcountry/Courtesy photo

Steamboat Springs athletes have a buffet of competitive options in the summer from the Town Challenge to the Steamboat Running Series. The modes of transportation may change once the snow falls, but the races do not.

The city puts on the Ski Ascent Series, but that isn’t the only chance to compete.

The Lake Catamount Touring Center and Ski Haus hosts the Pleasant Valley Race Ride Tour Series, which features a pair of full moon fat bike rides and a classic ski race this year. The classic race will take place this weekend at Catamount Nordic Center at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 30.

Also on Sunday is the Beaver Brawl COSMIC Skimo Race at Bluebird Backcountry in Kremmling, scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m.

The Pleasant Valley series has been around for at least a decade but took 2020-21 off due to the pandemic. Easing back into the swing of things, the series offers three chances for people to channel their competitive juices. The first fat bike race took place last weekend, and the second will be Feb. 16.

The bike races entered the scene about eight or nine years ago, adding to the list of Nordic races that were hosted at various locations across the valley by the Nordic Council. When that ended, Ski Haus and Catamount partnered and established the Pleasant Valley Race Ride Tour.

Catamount is private during the summer, but in the winter, the public has access to the largest collection of Nordic trails in the valley. The series obviously promotes the Nordic center but also encourages classic skiing.

“Lots and lots of folks love to backcountry ski. We have lots of skate skiers in the valley. Sometimes, classic gets a little overlooked,” said Murray Selleck, a manager at Ski Haus. “When you think about the beginning of skiing, they were classic skiing with the old wooden skis and their single pole. This is the beginning style of skiing that led to everything else. It’s a great way people to honor that classic style. It’s just a beautiful way to ski.”

Lake Catamount Touring Center is hosting the Ski Haus Classic Ski Race on Sunday, Jan. 30.
Kevin Kopischke/Courtesy photo

Both the bike and ski races are open to people of any ability and experience. That’s why it’s called the race ride tour. There are distance options of 2 kilometers, 5K, 7K and 14K in the classic race.

If you go

What: Pleasant Valley Race Ride Tour Series

When: 10 a.m. at Sunday, Jan. 30

Where: Lake Catamount Touring Center

Registration: $15,

“You can either race it, or you can tour it or ride it for fun,” said Catamount Club Outfitter Kevin Kopischke. “You can come out and do it for fun, or you can be a little competitive or very competitive. … We want to keep this fun for everybody.”

More intense competitors might prefer Bluebird’s Beaver Brawl or the slightly bigger, second-annual Bacon Brawl scheduled for Feb. 13.

If you go

What: Beaver Brawl COSMIC Skimo Race

When: Sunday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m.

Where: Bluebird Backcountry

Registration: $75,

The Bacon Brawl premiered last year, and people loved the event, particularly the 600-foot bootpack up the COSMIC couloir. The event’s success prompted Bluebird to bring in a second race and named it the Beaver Brawl, sticking with the ‘B’ alliterations.

“We just think that ski mountaineering racing is part of backcountry skiing’s culture, and we’re really trying to help build out and grow backcountry skiing’s culture,” said Bluebird co-founder Jeff Woodward. “Many of us have done races ourselves, and we just think they’re really fun.”

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