Elbows aplenty in Aspen’s Wild Dash for Cash race | AspenTimes.com

Elbows aplenty in Aspen’s Wild Dash for Cash race

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Basalt resident Mark Kweicienski compares the Wild Dash for Cash ski race to a similar event held each year in Pamplona, Spain.

Sure, the Wild Dash features human competitors while Pamplona welcomes bovine contestants, but Kweicienski sees the same sort of free-for-all atmosphere in both races.

“I think the race is a combination of the running of the bulls at the beginning, when everybody’s all tangled up at the top,” he said. “It’s a very exciting race, different than any other race that’s around here. It combines sprinting, shoving, putting skis on, passing, being courageous, holding back, knowing when to go for it, and then there’s the mosh pit down here at the bottom … it looked like such a gnarly, fun race, that before I get too old, I had to partake.”

The Dash, which celebrated three years of competition on Aspen Mountain Saturday morning, is often billed as a ski race, but the event incorporates too many elements to fall into one simple category. This particular “ski race” starts off with a slight uphill jog to Aspen Mountain’s Buckhorn Run, followed by a slide down Ruthie’s Run complete with bumps, jumps, and fellow competitors ready to elbow their way to a first-place finish.

But the race doesn’t end when skiers cross the finish line at the end of Ruthie’s Run.

“I was in the top group coming in, but really the whole race is the brawl at the bottom,” said contestant Adam Rothberg of Aspen.

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The team of Christian Questad, Stefan Lanzinger, Eric Archer and Eric Wolf (nursing some small wounds of their own) took home the race’s team prize, and $2,500, with members finishing in 4th, 5th, 9th and 11th place.

Then it got chaotic. After crossing the finish line, skiers must quickly cast off their skis and try to scale a nearly 10-foot tower of snow to reach a bikini-clad woman with $5,000 in her hands. Or, in the case of Saturday afternoon’s Wild Dash, some of that cash might be stored elsewhere.

Experience won out in this mosh pit portion of the event, as last year’s winners, Team Campo, hoisted a member of their squad to the top of the snow tower to claim the money and glory.

And, as Rothberg reports, scaling the snow fortress is the biggest obstacle Wild Dashers must face.

“The brawl went on for what seemed like 20 minutes, but maybe it was more like 10,” he said. “It’s just exhausting at the bottom, and at that point it’s really anybody’s game. It’s pretty funny – and bloody. There are a lot of ski boots flying, a lot of arms and fists and elbows … Every now and then, you catch it in the face.”

As both Matt Price and Jonathan Ballou found Saturday. Their team, consisting of four instructors from the Ski Schools of Aspen, didn’t collect any monetary rewards, but they did earn a few scratches and lumps during the race.

“I think we did more damage than we received, though,” said Ballou, nursing a few small gashes in his face.

“We gave as good as we got,” said Price, who was beaned with a ski early in the race.