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Aspen’s weekend of winter

Steve Benson

It’s our time again. The holidays have come and gone, and with them the hordes of visitors. This weekend, the spotlight will shift back to the locals, with an enormous collection of events scheduled for everyone who likes to slide on snow. Things get rolling dark and early today with the Aspen Highlands Uphill, which kicks off at 6:30 a.m.The second race in the BASH Uphill Series, the enduro uphill starts at the base of Highlands and follows a route to the top of Olympic Bowl. From there, racers remove skins or snowshoes before dropping into steep terrain en route to the finish at the Merry-Go-Round Restaurant. The recreation division, starting at 7 a.m., follows a shorter course that also ends at the Merry-Go-Round. Plenty of other racing, and teaching, is also on tap. The 25th season of The Aspen Times Town Race Series gets under way today with a free racing clinic at Aspen Highlands. Snowboarders, skiers and telemarkers will receive instruction from world-renowned racers in the clinic hosted by Tache Racing. “It’s a great cast of characters,” said Town Series race director Scott Nichols of the Aspen Skiing Co. “There’s a lot of talent to give everybody the best coaching in this valley – there’s just such diversity.” Olympian Chris Klug will lead the snowboarding clinic, with Olympian Dave Stapleton and former Slovenian National Team racer and former 24 Hours of Aspen champion Anda Rojs heading up the alpine segment. Former telemark World Champion Art Burrows will guide the free-heelers. “We’re going to work on just improving everybody’s skills,” Burrows said. “Obviously we’ll be concentrating on racing, but we’ll try to work on skills that will help tele skiers become better skiers in every aspect of skiing, from off-piste to getting more familiar with bumps.”It’s a great crew, the talent out there is off the scale. They’re all really great skiers and riders.” Klug managed to fit the clinic into his busy racing schedule. On Monday, he’ll be leaving for Whistler and the World Cup snowboarding championships. “We train so hard, and compete hard, so it’s nice to come home to Aspen and relax and ride powder with friends and family,” Klug said. “I get to sneak in another day of free-dogging, and watch the Broncos win on Sunday.”It will be a perfect weekend.” The free clinic hasn’t been offered since the early-1980s, and Nichols said its revival is in part a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Town Series, which is the longest-running town race series in the country. “It’s amazing,” he said. Participants need to check in today between 8:30 and 10 a.m. at the Thunderbowl Cafe. The free clinic will begin at the top of Golden Horn at 10:30 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m. If it’s snowing too hard to see the course, Nichols said, “We’ll all go powder skiing.” Over on Aspen Mountain, the 18th annual Wilder Dwight Memorial Classic Super G races will be held both Saturday and Sunday. More than 120 racers between the ages of 11 and 14 (J-3 and J-4) will compete on the course that starts at the top of Strawpile and finishes near the base of lift 1A. Racers from Vail, Summit, Sunlight, Monarch and Aspen will match skills. Training runs start at 10 a.m., with races scheduled for 1 p.m. both days. For nordic skiers, free demos and lessons will be offered at the Aspen Cross Country Center today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aspen municipal golf course. The demos are part of the annual Cross Country Ski Extravaganza, which includes free instruction, food and waxing. Over at Snowmass Mountain, the POWERade USASA Snowboard Series returns with a slalom on Saturday and a halfpipe event on Sunday. The events are part of the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Search, which is driven to discover the next big-name skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 9 to 13.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.co


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