Downhill Fridays returns to Snowmass with new, longer route
July 4, 2011
SNOWMASS – It’s all downhill on Fridays at Snowmass. And the bikers who tear down a new top-to-bottom trail route the fastest can pocket a cool hundred bucks.
Downhill Fridays, which debuted last summer on the Snowmass ski area, returns this year with a new, longer route. The series, bumped up from five weeks to six, begins Friday, July 8.
Last year, the intermediate course began at the top of the Elk Camp gondola, following the Snowmass Way Trail (dubbed “Sway,” for short) to the finish line at Base Village – a non-technical route that allowed locals and visitors to participate, according to Deric Gunshor, senior manager for event marketing at the Aspen Skiing Co.
“We had people on vacation here who would sign up to do it just for fun,” he said. “It’s not a true downhill course, where you’re just pointing it and going over crazy jumps and stuff.”
This year, riders will however, face the challenge of a longer ride, thanks to the completion of the new Vapor Trail. They’ll start at the top of the Elk Camp lift, at the summit of the ski area on its eastern side, and ride Vapor down to its junction with Snowmass Way for the rest of the descent into Base Village.
Vapor offers some big, sweeping, banked turns, but riders who aren’t comfortable flying through them can choose a lower line, Gunshor said.
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“We still want it to be something that anyone can show up and do,” he said.
The racing, on Fridays through Aug. 12, starts at 6 p.m., with the last gondola ride up for participants at 5:15 p.m. On the race day, the trail will be open for practice runs. Participants can register at the Snowmass Gondola ticket office and can pay either $25 per race or $125 for the six-week series. Registration includes Elk Camp Gondola access and the bike-haul fee for the day of the race.
Competitors will race in men’s open, women’s open and a junior (16 and under) divisions, and the fastest racers will divvy up more than $400 in prize money each week.
For men and women, it’s $100 per week for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third. Juniors can take home $50 for first place, $25 for second and $15 for third.
Snowmass is open to biking even for those who don’t want to race. The Elk Camp gondola runs daily through Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last ride down at 4:15 p.m.) and the Elk Camp chair runs Fridays through Sundays (and on Labor Day) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last ride down at 3:15 p.m.)
Gondola ticket prices at Snowmass are $20 for adults on Monday-Thursday, and $25 on Friday-Sunday. Youths and seniors can ride for less. Premier ski pass holders ride free; there are discounts for those who hold other 2010-11 Aspen-Snowmass ski passes.
There is a $10 bike-haul fee for all-day use, but it’s $5 for those who have an Aspen-Snowmass ski pass of any type. It’s also $5 for one ride and $5 after 2 p.m.