Cross country criss-crosses valley |

Cross country criss-crosses valley

Aspen Times Staff Report

Cross country races crisscross the valley this weekend, with a Junior Olympic sprint qualifier in Aspen Friday, followed by a pair of races Saturday and Sunday at the Spring Gulch Trail System near Carbondale.

Friday’s race in Aspen features approximately 175 skiers from 13 schools in Colorado competing in a 1.5k freestyle sprint qualifying race for the Rocky Mountain Division’s Junior Olympic Team.

Time trials begin at 10:30 a.m. on the trail system at the new Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club clubhouse near the Aspen schools campus. At 1 p.m., the skiers will begin racing in heats, grouped according to their time trial results.

“It’s a pretty new and exciting event for Nordic skiing, and this is the first year that sprint cross-country is a Junior Olympic medal event,” said AVSC executive director Toby Morse. “Whoever wins [Friday] automatically qualifies for the Junior Olympics.”

Many of the same high and middle school racers will travel down to the Spring Gulch ski area near Carbondale to compete in another Rocky Mountain Division Jr. Olympic Team qualifier on Saturday.

The Alpine Bank Classic Junior Race, a 5k classic style event, also serves as a high school competition for the Colorado State Ski League. Racing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. To accommodate for the racing, Spring Gulch trails will be closed to skating all day Friday, and from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday during the race.

On Sunday, Spring Gulch hosts for the 30th Annual Rat Race. Racers of all ages and skill level are invited to participate in the fun family event where outrageous costumes are welcomed.

The main event is a 10k scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by three divisions of Junior Ratties races: a .5k for skiers 5-and-under, a 2k for racers ages 6-10, and a 3.5k for racers ages 11-13. The 3k tandem race shoves off at 11:30 a.m.

Registration costs $15 for 10k skiers and $6 for tandem skiers, which includes lunch. All youth racers are free. The event benefits the Colorado Rocky Mountain School Nordic Ski Team.

Racers must register for the Rat Race between 9 and 10 a.m. at the Bar Fork building at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. For more information about the Rat Race, call Lindley or Tiaan van der Linde at 704-1893.

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