Fast as you can
The valley’s fastest skiers and snowboarders take over Tiehack this weekend in the John Meyer Memorial Town Downhill, an extension of The Aspen Times Town Race Series. Training runs are today and the one-run final takes place Sunday at 11 a.m.It’s only fitting that in an area where skiing is life for many people, several dozen of these diehards will test their mettle (and risk life and limb) by going up to 70 mph down the Racer’s Edge downhill course. That’s faster than the posted speed limit on Highway 82. This is the essence of skiing, folks.If you’ve never done it, and you have the mental wherewithal to try, rustle up a pair of 215s and see what happens. It’s been described as driving a Cadillac versus a Honda Civic. And it’s true – you can barely hear the engine revving up, and the pickup may feel slow, but once you get cruising, what a ride! It’s smooth, fast and uncannily stable – you may be going 50 mph but it feels like 20. And when you have to turn, just tip those puppies on edge and feel the G-force take over.Downhill – in my extremely minimal experience – feels much more mental than physical, at least as opposed to the technical alpine disciplines of slalom and giant slalom. You have to be completely focused on the course, try to memorize every change of pitch and undulation, and not let it get to you that you’re going faster than you normally would on the highway. The skis do the rest. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.And if I chicken out before Sunday’s race – which is a possibility if the visibility is bad or the course gets iced up – I’m certainly going to get out there and watch it. Because watching a downhill race on TV isn’t quite the same – in person, that flash of speed suit and the dull rumble followed by the whoosh of the skis as the racer goes by is much more powerful.The fastest racers will complete the course, basically the length of Tiehack, in about a minute and 20 seconds. It’s our own little Hahnenkamm.
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