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New name for town ski race series

Skiers Lindsay Wert, foreground, and Stephan Zittel race down a slalom course during a head-to-head race at Steamboat Ski Area during a 2011 Town Challenge ski race. This year, the race series is back but with a new name, a small change that's a part of the group's efforts to draw out a bigger crowd to its races. Other changes include an emphasis on more fun styles of racing, such as head-to-head events.
Joel Reichenberger

2015-2016 schedule

Thursday Kickoff party, McKnights Irish Pub 6 p.m.

Dec. 10 Giant slalom, Howelsen Hill 7 p.m.

Dec. 20 Giant slalom, Steamboat Ski Area 1 p.m.

Jan. 3 Slalom, Steamboat Ski Area 1 p.m.

Jan. 16 Giant slalom, Steamboat Ski Area 10 a.m.

Jan. 28 Giant slalom, Howelsen Hill 7 p.m.

Jan. 29 Slalom Howelsen Hill 7 p.m.

Feb. 4 Giant slalom duals, Howelsen Hill 7 p.m.

Feb. 14 Super combined, Steamboat Ski Area 10 a.m.

Feb. 25 Giant slalom, Howelsen Hill 7 p.m.

March 5 Slalom, Steamboat Ski Area 1 p.m.

March 6 Giant slalom, Steamboat Ski Area 1 p.m.

— It’s no surprise the men and women of the Town Challenge Ski Racing circuit in Steamboat Springs are of the opinion ski racing is awesome.

Between 35 and 50 skiers and snowboarders (mostly skiers) compete in the annual recreational racing schedule in about a dozen races each year that vary between more technical slalom courses and faster giant slalom tracks.

The goal, they said, is convincing other people how much fun racing can be and ballooning those numbers for this year’s circuit.



That’s what organizers of the 34-year old series had in mind this season when they changed its name from Town Challenge to Steamboat Town League Alpine Telemark Snowboard Series.

“We didn’t want people to be turned off by the word ‘challenge,’” Michelle Madderom said. “People can get turned off by the competitiveness of it all, but that’s not what we’re there for. We’re there to show our love for the sport and introduce people who have been intrigued by it.”



That’s been an ongoing concern for the group, but it’s one it hopes it can conquer this year with more than just a name change.

This year’s 11-event schedule includes head-to-head giant slalom racing Feb. 4 to coincide with Winter Carnival. It also includes a couples race, likely Feb. 14, because that just makes sense.

It will include costume contests for other races and, organizers hope, plenty of fun and new faces.

It all begins Thursday evening with a kickoff party from 6 to 8 p.m. at McKnights Irish Pub in Steamboat Springs.

The series will still include some of challenges, of course. Most of the races will take place on Howelsen Hill or on Bashor at Steamboat Ski Area. There are two events, Jan. 16 and Feb. 14, scheduled for Steamboat Ski Area’s newest run, All Out, a race-specific run closed to the public and used almost exclusively for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club training and events.

It promises to have an icier and faster surface than regular ski trails.

That’s enough to catch the eye of both the more serious racers in the series and those who are just out to run some gates, learn the sport and make new friends.

“I can’t wait to go ski on that run,” said Jim Kohler, a regular in the series who’s been eyeing All Out throughout its construction.

He’s one of those skiers who dons the racing suit and has particular skis for each event. He needs them, he says, to keep pace with his friendly rivals in the series.

Even he, however, said the events can be more than that.

“We want to tone down the overall raciness of it and instead focus on how much fun it is to come out and be a part of a social group, do some racing, learn some new skills and drink some beer after it all,” he said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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