Inferno race up and down Highlands ignites Saturday | AspenTimes.com

Inferno race up and down Highlands ignites Saturday

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Think you’re the strongest skier or snowboarder in the valley? Then prove it. (Or just come out anyway to support the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol.)

On Saturday morning, the Highlands Patrol is hosting its second annual Inferno race – a leg and lung-busting uphill-downhill affair in Highland Bowl.

Starting near the patrol monument at the base of Mousetrap, just below the top of the Loge Peak chairlift, the course climbs more than 800 vertical feet along the ridge to the 12,382-foot summit of Highland Peak. Then, racers strap on rides of choice – alpine/telemark skis, or snowboards, which they’ll be carrying with them, of course – for the 1,400-vertical-foot descent to the finish line in the base of the bowl. The fastest rider down wins.

In the debut of the race last year,18-year Highlands Patrol veteran Jimmy Newman set a blazing pace, winning the event in 26 minutes, 29 seconds.

“We’ve got a lot of people who love to climb the ridge and who love Highland Bowl, and that’s why we’re doing it,” said “Bruno.” (Patroller Bruno is a member of Highlands’ snow safety team; he asked not to be identified by his real name.)

Aside from bragging rights and worldwide acclaim, winners of the four divisions – men’s and women’s over- and under-40 – receive a $100 cash prize taped to a bottle of “Inferno” vodka that Bruno unearthed at El Jebeverage.

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But Bruno stressed that the event isn’t just for the agro, extreme set. Bruno himself will be racing, “an eager participant, yes, but I won’t be leading the charge,” he said.

“It’s all about participating,” said Bruno. “It’s a Highland Bowl kind of thing – people out there know what I’m talking about.”

While about 100 people competed last year, as of Thursday afternoon, Bruno said he’s only received the $25 registration fee from about 35 racers. As a result, Bruno and the Highlands Patrol will be accepting registrations through Saturday morning, right up until the last heat starts. (The $25 fee includes a groovy second-edition Inferno T-shirt.)

Racing starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with the first heat of 50 racers. If there’s a strong turnout, additional heats of 50 racers will start at 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

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