Steamboat Springs Chad Fleischer previously had won the legends division giant slalom at the American Ski Classic in Vail, but in his ninth year of competing in the event — which draws celebrities, former skiing legends and those inside the industry — Fleischer never had been able to dial in a team victory.
That all changed last weekend in Vail when Team Fleischer, consisting of five members, outlasted the rest of the field and came through the dual-racing format as the champion.
“It’s not easy to do,” Fleischer said. “It’s like the basketball tournament. There are all kinds of brackets, and a team has to win and win, and then it’s single elimination.”
Fleischer served as the legend on the five-man team. He was joined by former Cy Young winner and World Series champion Bret Saberhagen. Todd Kennedy, a brand manager for Korbel Champagne; M.C. Malboeuf, a Volkl Skis rep; and Jim Glendining, who owns The George in Vail, completed the team.
“That’s what the Ski Classic is about,” Fleischer said. “It’s a tight network of people who love skiing and ski racing. They accomplish a lot of great things outside the sport.”
The event serves as a fundraiser for the Vail Valley Foundation, which helps put on events such as the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup and the Summer Mountain Games.
It features an amateur race, a legends race and the team event. It then pairs up racers against their counterparts with each win counting for a point.
With the legends of skiing all coming together — including Steamboat’s Billy Kidd and Moose Barrows — Fleischer said being there is part of the charm.
“These are all my idols growing up,” he said. “You watch them on TV and have posters on your wall. Then here you are skiing with them. It’s a pretty cool deal.”
Team Fleischer moved through the initial brackets and into the final bracket. After falling down 2-0, Fleischer competed with former Austrian and Bulgarian national team member Kilian Albrecht. Fleischer edged him at the end to help his team win.
“It was head to head, and I pulled it out,” he said. “It’s great and a lot of fun.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com