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Return to racing

Steve Benson

Before yesterday, it had been 10 years since I’d raced on skis.Not that I had a racing background and got burned out, but rather the last time I ran gates things didn’t go too well. I was trying to beat my dad and dethrone him in the process. At some point in the ’70s, he’d earned the title of emperor (that’s a whole other story) after beating a friend in a Nastar race. If I beat him, the title would be mine. I was a cocky teenager and convinced that victory would come swift and easy. But somewhere around the fifth or sixth gate, I fell into the back seat, tried to recover and blew up. To make matters worse, as I was sliding out of control down the course – while my dad was skiing to victory – the tip of my pole dug into the snow and the handle popped me in the mouth. Long story short, I came close to breaking my jaw, and my dad is still emperor. I’d stayed away from races ever since. Anyway, on Sunday I entered The Aspen Times Town Race Series at Highlands. We were supposed to have a Times team, but only two of us showed up. Plus, I was telemarking, and there were only two of us in that division. But despite the small field, the race was awesome, and I can’t believe more people don’t compete. No matter how good of a freeskier you think you are, racing introduces a whole new element – mostly a humbling element. I only ran the course twice, but I can feel a new addiction brewing. The advanced division – which comprises some big-name former racers – runs on Saturdays. The recreation division, which includes telemark and snowboard divisions in addition to alpine, takes place on Sundays. Coming down with the flu? Plan to call in sick on Tuesday or Wednesday. The National Weather Service is calling for 1-2 feet of snow in the Aspen area by Wednesday.

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