Burning up – and down – the Bowl | AspenTimes.com

Burning up – and down – the Bowl

Steve Benson
Andre Wille leads the pack up the ridge to the summit of Highland Bowl Saturday during the fifth annual Inferno. Wille won the competitive division. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

The snow was blowing sideways in Highland Bowl Saturday morning, which could only mean one thing: The Inferno was scheduled to get under way. In the five-year history of the event, weather has always been an issue. But that seems fitting for a race that consists of hiking the ridge of Highland Bowl from the bottom of Mousetrap to the summit before descending O-Zone on skis or a snowboard to the finish. And like the weather, the lunatics who battle it out on the ridge and down the gut of the Bowl don’t change much. Of course the names may shuffle a bit – and a big-time newcomer may throw his hat in the ring for an added challenge – but it’s pretty much the usual suspects. Surprise, surprise, Andre Wille won the competitive division to defend his title with a time of 27 minutes, 56 seconds. Wille, from Basalt, seems to win just about every adventure-ski race in the valley. His nemesis, Mike Kloser, of Vail, who somehow seems to participate in just about every adventure race around the globe, took second in his first-ever Inferno with a time of 27:59, just three seconds behind Wille. Kloser’s entrance shook up the field a bit, pretty much knocking every competitor down a place from last year. Snowboarder Brad Yule, of Aspen, took third with a time of 28:38. He finished second last year. Wille is now one victory away from catching seasoned Highlands patroller Jimmy Newman, who won the first three Infernos and holds the course record with a time of 25:33. Newman missed last years race after tearing his ACL, and finished fifth on Saturday. He said he just wanted to get back out and give it a go, and that he’s probably in the worst shape he’s been in the last five years. Yeah, finishing the race in 29:15 is pretty slow. Newman said if he decides to race again next year and reclaim his title, he will actually have to train.

But as these guys and gals will tell you, the Inferno isn’t really about winning. It’s about making the rest of us feel pathetic. Just kidding. It’s actually about hanging with like-minded endorphin junkies who enjoy the sensation of exploding lungs and scorched muscles. “Oh my legs,” Wille cried to some fellow racers from a bed of snow after crossing the finish. “I’ve never had ’em that bad. It hurt … God.” In achieving such pain, though, Wille realized he had stumbled upon the perfect concoction. “[The Inferno] is the ultimate combination of adrenaline, endorphin, and then to top off the cocktail, lactic acid,” he said. “It’s the burn from the Inferno.” Ummm, sounds good. Want to feel worse about yourself? Keefe Carvelli, the son of Highlands ski patroller Peter Carvelli, won the junior division in 34:26. It was his first time hiking the bowl all season. But the old man still got the best of his son by more than a minute. “It’s pretty cool,” the 14-year-old said. “You don’t have to have much skill, you just have to know how to hike and ski.”

Karen Sahn was the winner of the women’s competitive division with a time of 33:08; Colleen Carvelli won the women’s rec division in 40:05. Todd Babos won the men’s rec in 38:12. ResultsMen’s Competitive Division Top 10

1. Andre Wille 27:562. Mike Kloser 27:593. Brad Yule 28:384. Pierre Wille 29:085. Jimmy Newman 29:156. Russ DeVries 30:397. Neal Beidleman 31:118. Kevin Dunkelberg 31:189. Penn Newhard 31:2410. Steve Miller 31:26

Women’s Competitive Division (all four)1. Karen R. Sahn 33.082. Lyndsay Meyer 38.413. Arabella Beavers 40.444. Jessica Phillips 41.40Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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