Ski Ascent Series returns to Steamboat Resort, Howelsen Hill |

Ski Ascent Series returns to Steamboat Resort, Howelsen Hill

The Town Challenge: Ski Ascent Series is returning for its second year beginning Dec. 16. (Courtesy/Emily Hines)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Ski Ascent Series is back.

Plans have been in the works for weeks, and the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department was officially given the go-ahead for five race dates at Howelsen Hill Ski Area and Steamboat Resort.

“Everyone is looking for some measure of normalcy right now, and this sport in particular is well suited for where we’re at right now as a community,” said Race Director Charlie MacArthur. “I think everybody is extremely excited to get out there. It’s been a dry year so far, but that hasn’t prevented us from setting a course.”

The series started as a grassroots group that included MacArthur but became more official last year thanks to a partnership with the city. Eighty-two people participated in the inaugural series, which had six scheduled races but was cut short due to the closure of the resort in March.

The first race of the 2020 series is coming up fast on Dec. 16 at Howelsen Hill. The circuit format was a participant and fan favorite from last winter.

There will be one race in January and February as well as two in March, as long as health orders and the resort allow.

“We are exploring other places, other options, so stay tuned for that,” said Emily Hines, marketing and special events coordinator for Parks and Recreation.

Hines said Parks and Rec is speaking with another location about possibly adding another race into the mix, but there are no guarantees that would happen.

2020 Ski Ascent Series schedule

Dec. 16: Howelsen Hill

Jan. 13: Steamboat Resort

Feb. 10: Howelsen Hill

March 17: Steamboat Resort

March 24: Steamboat Resort

The Town Challenge website,, will be updated sometime Thursday, and registration will be available later in the evening. Junior participants pay $10 per race, while adult registration costs $20.

At the county’s current level on the COVID-19 dial, red, 75 people can take part in an unseated outdoor event. Subtracting a few staff and Ski Patrol members, Parks and Rec has capped each race at 68 people. To prevent gathering at the start area, participants will be sent off in waves of 10, divided by divisions.

The divisions are the same as last year: pro/open, sport and junior, with a female and male category in each.

Registration must be done online to limit in-person interactions on race day.

“We know that is going to be difficult for some folks, but unfortunately, that is the way of the world right now,” Hines said. “We aren’t comfortable with that much interaction on site the day of.”

On race day, people are required to wear masks as they warm up and in the start/finish area. Masks also are required in transition areas as well as any time participants are within 6 feet of each other. For a majority of the race, as long as competitors are spaced out, a mask is not required.

“It’s hard I know, when you’re racing, but it’s just one more piece of equipment,” Hines said. “This event has a lot of equipment anyway. We’re hopeful one more item won’t be too hard for folks to do.”

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