Power of volunteers fuels power of four
When the pack of racers sets off from the base of Snowmass this morning, their eyes were on the end game: ascending and descending all four ski mountains in a 24-mile race that includes more than 10,000 vertical feet of gain.
For the volunteers and support crew who toil behind the scenes of the Power of Four ski-mountaineering race, the racers’ end game is their only game.
“There are a lot of moving parts to a race that spans the distance the Power of Four does, and our volunteers fill key roles to keep this event moving safely and smoothly,” said Daragh Kneeshaw, event marketing coordinator. “We have roughly 10 to 12 volunteers that lend a huge hand in creating a successful race.”
According to Kneeshaw, positions range from course setters to aid-station teams to course marshals.
And the work these volunteers do can be nearly as taxing as the race itself.
“The volunteer roles we seek to fill are far from easy,” Kneeshaw explained. “Our course setters put in grueling days leading up to the event dropping flags, setting rope lines and tracks. On race day, if rough weather blows in, volunteers power through a long day on course assisting athletes with supply needs at aid stations and keeping track of our teams at multiple check points.”
And like all things in the local ski world, Highland Bowl is the toughest game in town.
“If any one position stands out, it would have to be the role of Highland Bowl course marshal, which has been held by the Power of Four’s longest-running volunteer, Nick Ketpura,” Kneeshaw said, adding that year after year, Ketpura makes the early-morning trek to the top of the bowl to check off and cheer teams on as they cross this pinnacle point in the race.
“I think, in large part, our volunteers donate their time to simply be a part of such an exciting race and the community as a whole,” Kneeshaw said of why locals choose to give their time to the Power of Four. “We also offer a custom Power of Four Helly Hansen base layer and an invite to the after-party at the Limelight Hotel, which doesn’t hurt either.”
Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that the Power of Four would have little power without its cadre of volunteers.
“We absolutely could not do this race without our volunteers,” Kneeshaw said. “Our volunteers sacrifice their time to play a key role in what has become such an anticipated event. As this race continues to grow from not only an Aspen-Snowmass event, but now more than ever, a community event, there are a number of groups that are critical to its success.”
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
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