Wednesday, January 5, 2005
The annual Town Challenge Race Series has been offering adults in Steamboat Springs a competitive skiing experience for more than 20 years.
Tonight, the tradition will continue when the first racer steps into the starting gate for the Tap House Cup giant slalom event, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
The opener is happening about two weeks later than expected because of the tragic death of Alpine ski racer Ashley Stamp on Dec. 19 in Vail. The accident came just days before the Steamboat race series was scheduled to begin.
Race organizer Heather DeVos said trying to organize the opener while dealing with the loss of one of the club's brightest young skiers was just too much to handle.
"We knew the memorial service was going take place on the same day the Town Challenge was supposed to open, but we were not sure what time it was going to be," DeVos said. "We could have held the race, but it was just too overwhelming for us and the people who come out to race. As a club, we just needed a few days to shut down."
So the opening event was pushed back, and it was decided that the first race would be a memorial to honor Stamp. Her teammates and immediate family have been invited to forerun the course for the event, and the proceeds from the first race will be donated to the Ashley Stamp Memorial Fund.
DeVos said the first race of the season is usually one of the largest. Last year, the event drew 65 racers, and DeVos is expecting similar numbers this year.
Although the Town Challenge is geared toward the competitive racer, DeVos said the events draw a wide range of athletes from former World Cup racers to those who have never taken part in a ski race before. She said some of the racers come out to compete but that many others just want to socialize with people who have similar interests.
The series is designed to allow athletes of varying abilities to take part in a number of different categories.
Competitors can choose from Alpine, snowboard or telemark divisions. The Alpine class is further divided into racer, expert and cruiser classes for competitors younger than 40, older than 40, older than 50 and older than 60.
The race series includes 11 races. The series features FIS style courses with World Cup scoring systems that determine the overall winners of the series and placing in every class.
The sponsoring restaurants will hold parties after each race with complimentary beverage for all entrants older than 21. There also will be drawings offering hundreds of dollars in prizes.
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