Dash for Cash: ‘It’s out of control’
April 5, 2002
The Wild Dash for Cash – that gladiatorlike ski race where dozens of testosterone-charged competitors fly down Aspen Mountain after babes in bikinis and $7,500 in prize money – is set for Saturday.
The race, in its third year, has proven to be a popular spectator sport, with hundreds lining the course from the top of the mountain down to the finish at the base of Ruthie’s Run.
“It’s just out of control,” says Fletcher Yaw, a member of last season’s winning team. “There’s no other race like it. All at once – Chinese Downhill style.”
Yaw and Tyler Williams, another member of last year’s winning team, will be joined by Ian McLendon and a racer to be named at the top of Buckhorn. They will be competing for $2,500 awarded to the top finishing team and $5,000 that goes to the individual racer who makes the final desperate climb to the top of a wall of ice and the gaggle of bodacious babes waiting on top.
Race organizer Hansi Brenninger is promising an afternoon filled with races, free beer, a barbecue on the deck of the now-defunct Gwyn’s Restaurant and plenty of good cheer. (That’s right – free beer will be available thanks to a donation from sponsor Budweiser.)
@ATD Sub heds:Let the games begin
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@ATD body copy: The race begins near the top of the Ajax Express lift, next to the Sundeck Restaurant, at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Once the starting gun fires, the racers will take off, skis in hand, running toward the top of Buckhorn. When they reach the top, they’ll jump into their skis and point them through the moguls. Racers take the high road at the bottom of Buckhorn and head toward the traverse toward Ruthie’s Run.
The course then takes them under the ramp at the top of the FIS lift (Number 6), through the trees past the shrine to Jerry Garcia and into a zigzag pattern down Ruthie’s that forces the competitors to negotiate jumps, moguls and each other.
The first team to get all four members across the finish line will win the $2,500 team prize. But crossing the finish line means things are about to get really tough.
“Then they’ll start running over the camel humps to a nine-foot ice block under the deck of the restaurant at the bottom of Ruthie’s,” Brenninger explained. On top of the ice block will be a bikini-clad woman with a check for $5,000 in her … er … hand.
It might appear that the first to cross the finish line would have an easy time reaching the girl and the money on top, but appearances can be deceiving. Yaw and McLendon were the first two across the line last year, but neither of them made it up the ice block to take individual honors.
“Every time I got close, five different people pulled me off,” Yaw said after last year’s race. “Everyone was either hoisting or falling. It was definitely anything goes.”
The first individual to climb the block of ice wins the $5,000 individual prize, although there are no guarantees that he’ll win the girl.
Only two members from last year’s winning team are returning to the Wild Dash – Yaw and Williams.
McLendon raced on a different team last year, but he is joining Yaw and Williams in their quest to win it all this year. The fourth member of the team has yet to be named, but the word on the street is it will be one of three potential ringers – Olympian Casey Puckett, wild man Greg Harms or skiercross competitor Eric Archer.
“We’re just going to go out there and give it hell,” McLendon said.
@ATD Sub heds:Growing support
@ATD body copy: It’s exactly that kind of enthusiasm that has allowed Brenninger, the founding father of Aspen’s Wild Dash, to draw in more and more sponsors.
“We haven’t got any big sponsors yet,” Brenninger said. “But a lot of local businesses have stepped up to make it work.” (Although Budweiser did donate the free beer for the party afterward.)
Brenninger said the primary sponsors are Whiskey Rocks, a bar in the St. Regis Aspen hotel, and an anonymous donor who “just wants to see this thing fly.”
Brenninger teaches skiing on Aspen Mountain and organizes corporate and private events through his company Ski Hansi Inc. He said he hopes the Wild Dash will eventually become a fund-raiser for Grassroots Aspen Experience, the local nonprofit that brings underprivileged children from inner cities to Aspen every summer.
The Wild Dash is modeled after a similar event in Australia, which Brenninger reportedly dominated for a number of years during his athletic prime. The race here has proven to be a more popular spectator event than any other race on the mountain, including the World Cup races.