Community pride on display at Owl Creek
On Saturday, the Owl Creek Chase was run on one of the few bullet-blue-sky days we have had this winter. Among the nearly 400 people that were nordic racing that day, we had a field of about 50 elite racers that included former Olympians, U.S. Ski Team members and national champions. And our own Noah Hoffman beat them all!
Talk about community pride. The other 350 people were made up of citizen racers in 15 and 25 kilometer races, 15k tourers, and a bunch of junior racers in a Junior Olympic Qualifier. If you are getting the picture of a community of cross country skiers out having fun together then I am describing it right. Hopefully the kids enjoyed skiing with a few of their heroes.
This was all a part of the Aspen Nordic Festival, a large slate of Nordic events that started on Thursday (all put on by John Callahan and his AVSC crew) culminating in the Owl Creek Chase. It’s probably the largest nordic event ever to take place in the state of Colorado. The event was run with a neutral carbon imprint, and has been given a ZGreen certification. This was underwritten by Rocky Mountain Nordic as part of their “Keep Winter White” Tour Series. Well, the whole thing came off as the result of a lot of hard work and cooperation.
The race is put on by the partnership of the Ute Mountaineer and the City of Aspen Parks and Recreation Department. Deep gratitude to the staff members of both that contributed. Special thanks to Ben Dodge, Chief of Course (of course), and Austin Weiss with his grooming crew of Eric Gosney and Tom Stiles for the incredible amount of time they put in to race planning and course preparation.
We had about 70 volunteers, so I will just say an emphatic thank you to all. Thanks to the Aspen Skiing Company and their patience as we impacted both their Snowmass and Buttermilk operations. And apologies to the neighborhoods that were affected by our road crossings. Cheers to Mike Trecker who handled the care and feeding of our elite athletes. Mike, also the “voice of the Owl Creek Chase” does a great job of sharing his passion, enthusiasm, and his knowledge of nordic ski racing with the wonderful fans that showed up for all the events.
Kudos to our many host families. Thanks to Aspen Valley Ski Club and the Aspen Snowmass Nordic council. The Aspen Nordic Festival and the Owl Creek Chase are, I feel, very cool expressions of what Aspen can do.
The Ute Mountaineer
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