Aspen a great stage for nordic skiing |

Aspen a great stage for nordic skiing

Dear Editor:

The 2011 Owl Creek Chase, part of the Aspen Nordic Festival, proved once again that Aspen can host nordic ski races at the highest level. Last weekend, more than 300 racers came out to participate, again solidifying this event as Colorado’s largest cross-country ski race. The race hosted elite men, elite women, citizen racers, and college teams from the University of Denver, Mesa State, Western State, and the University of Wyoming for this 21K freestyle race from Snowmass to Aspen.

The Owl Creek Trail is always tough, but the field that assembles for the Owl Creek Chase makes it the ultimate. And the “ultimate” Owl Creek Chase winner, after less than an hour of racing, was Sylvan Ellefson, representing Vail with a time of 57 minutes and 3.4 seconds.

The party-like atmosphere at the finish line included tunes from DJ Dylan and food by 520 Grill. The race was complete with some help from Mother Nature providing pristine blue skies for both spectators and racers.

The weekend also played host to Junior Olympic Qualifiers, Citizen level Colorado Cup racing, Elite level events in the USSA SuperTour, and the University of Denver NCAA Invitational. With all these events combined, the Aspen Nordic Festival and the Owl Creek Chase brought nordic skiers of all different backgrounds and interests together for a festive nordic atmosphere unlike any other.

The city of Aspen would like to thank our fabulous volunteers who donate their time (many schlepping gear into the backcountry for aid stations and other similarly demanding roles), the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Town of Snowmass Village, Aspen Skiing Co., property owners and managers that the Owl Creek Trail traverses, Aspen Snowmass Nordic Council, and Aspen Mountain Rescue for helping to make the event a success and for keeping a watchful eye on our participants. We are grateful for their assistance in providing the safest experience possible to those willing to take the challenge of competing in a race in this demanding physical environment.

It is our sincere hope that these events help spotlight the incredible cross country ski trails network here in the valley and to provide yet another example of why Aspen has become a world-class destination for all skiing disciplines.

Austin Weiss and Sandra Doebler

Directors, Owl Creek Chase Race

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