Steamboat Coureur returns after weather-stunted inaugural race |

Steamboat Coureur returns after weather-stunted inaugural race

— Dan Smilkstein had big plans for the inaugural Steamboat Coureur, hoping the unique, two-day, skiing-cycling tandem event would catch on the way his last startup, the North Routt Glide the Divide, had.

Last season's positively warm winter and stunningly early spring melted his race, however. The event was pushed a week earlier at the last minute in a desperate attempt to be able to race on snow, and participation was a fraction of what had been hoped for, with about 40 skiers taking part on the first day and 20 cyclists the following day.

Now, the Steamboat Coureur is back, and Smilkstein is confident it will be bigger and better — even though it doesn't have much of a bar to clear.

"Everything looks to be in great shape," he said.

Some things will be different.

The race, a fundraiser for the Emerald Mountain Park trail system, is set for March 30, a week earlier than last year's event initially was scheduled.

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"We already have 3 feet more snow than we had last year," Smilkstein said before another storm system began to dump snow on Steamboat on Thursday.

The event also will go from a two-day affair to just one, combining 10-, 25- and 50-kilometer ski races with 25K and 50K biking options to be raced individually, as part of a 25K-25K duathlon or as a part of a team.

"We still have some hills in there. There's about 1,200 feet of climbing per lap," Smilkstein said.

Plenty about the race will stay the same, too.

It still will take place toward the east end of Rabbit Ears Pass, on snowmobile trails maintained by Steamboat Snowmobile Tours.

And it still will retain much of the quirky charm that's come to define a Smilkstein-led event. In addition to snow bikes (snikes) there again will be a snow unicycle (snuni) race. That will consist of a course of 1K, 5K or 17K. There also will be a snuni slalom course set up for competitors.

"We've already had 100 percent growth for the long unicycle event," Smilkstein said. "So we have two people signed up. … The unicycle part is really self-serving. It's a lot of fun, and the people who came up last year had a great time playing with them. It's just a fun thing to do."

More information is available at Registration fees range from $16 to $85, and registration remains open here until Thursday night.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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