The big race |

The big race

Catherine Lutz

The long-anticipated “giant giant slalom” – part of the Town Race Series – is Saturday and Sunday at Aspen Highlands. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, consider the following:The race takes place the whole length of Golden Horn/Thunderbowl, a length more typical of a World Cup race than a town series competition.Town racers typically clock times of a minute and a half per run, close to double the time of a normal GS course in the series.Five-time World Cup champion Marc Girardelli has said he thinks it’s the best giant slalom course in the world. He even trained on it when he was a World Cup competitor.So there. It might be worth coming out this weekend to test your mettle at the giant giant slalom. Skiers in the advanced division race at 11:30 a.m. Saturday; Sunday’s recreational race at noon is open to all: skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers.From experience I can tell you it’s quite a rush just finishing that course. It’s truly a test of discipline, consistency and precision, and you’ll learn a lot about your skiing. And when you’re doubled over, fighting for your breath at the finish line, you’ll be proud of yourself and vow to do better next time. Really.The giant giant slalom is the one race that regular competitors look forward to all season, one of the most popular events of the year, according to Scott Nichols, Aspen Skiing Co. race director. Sign-up is from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on race day at Endeavor Café. The entry fee is $20; a lift ticket plus entry fee is $60. The Cantina will host an after party from 3:30 to 5 p.m., with free beer and appetizers, a video replay from the day’s competition, a raffle drawing and the crowning of the Town Race Series giant slalom champions. It’s also the second-to-last race of the season; a slalom wraps up the winter on April 1-2. For more information, call the race department at 544-3005, or visit reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is considerable on steep slopes on NW-N-NE aspects above treeline. The danger is moderate near treeline and on other aspects above treeline. Below treeline the danger is low but increasing with the warming trend.Keep an eye out for warming temperatures and increasing avalanche activity on steep, sunny slopes and at lower elevations. Avoid these areas later in the afternoon. High elevation NW-N-NE slopes may still see some activity on buried weak layers.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, visit For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit

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