Vail town ski races in jeopardy | AspenTimes.com

Vail town ski races in jeopardy

Steve LynnVail correspondent

VAIL A 40-year-old ski race series faces being canceled next year if the nonprofit that hosts it cannot find a sponsor by Friday.It just would be a shame to see it die out, said Nate Smith, who has skied in the series of races almost every year since he moved to the Vail Valley 17 years ago.The Vail Town Race Series is supposed to start Jan. 9 and run every Wednesday morning until Feb. 27. But the ski, snowboard and telemark races wont take place if Ski & Snowboard Club Vail cannot find a sponsor, said Jennifer Vance, development director for the organization.Money from sponsorships and entry fees from the race series has gone to skiing and snowboarding programs at the nonprofit, which gets about a third of its budget from fundraisers, Vance said.This year, the organization just wants to save the race series, which has been breaking even and has had only one large sponsor in the last four years, Vance said.The whole reason we dont want to let go of it is that its been around for so long, she said.’Legendary eventEveryone from average ski racers to professionals show up to race in the Vail Town Race Series, skiers said.A few years ago, World Cup ski racer Sarah Schleper showed up at the races and crushed all the guys, said Smith, who is also know by his ski racing name, Natron.How cool was that? Smith said.Around 100 skiers used to show up for the legendary event, he said.All these things would be cut off if there was no town race, he said. To me its just a bummer.At one time, the race series was one of the largest of its kind in the country, but lately only 25 to 30 racers have shown up, Vance said.Its been pretty sad, she said.In the coming years, the organization wants to get the race series back to what it used to be, she said.Wed love to have it be a big, exciting part of winter for the community, she said.Decline of the seriesThe race series lost its appeal when many of the races were moved to Vail Mountains Black Forest Nastar race course, which isnt as steep as Golden Peak, where the races used to be held, skiers said.And competition from other races, such as the Beaver Creek Town Race Series, has made racers chose one or the other, said Brett Snyder, who has raced in the series.An increasing number of events being held on Golden Peak have prevented the Vail Town Race Series from holding all its races there, Vance said.Franz Fuxi Fuchsberger, who also has skied in the race series, said that the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has not focused enough on the series to make it successful. Fuchsberger compared building a good ski racing team to making the race series successful.You have to organize it and put your mind to it, Fuchsberger said.Skiers need some kind of race on Vail Mountain, Fuchsberger said.Locals need to have something to kind of unleash themselves, he said.The race series is a fun way to test ones talents against Vails best skiers, said David Viele, who has raced in the giant slalom and slalom, the two races in the series.Its one of the important traditions in town and I would certainly be disappointed if they didnt have it, Viele said.slynn@vaildaily.com.

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