Wild Dash for Cash crashes onto Aspen Mountain Sunday
April 1, 2003
One of the most unique races in the ski world is set to take place this weekend, with some of the region’s top athletes vying for up to $7,500 in winnings.
The Wild Dash for Cash, scheduled for Sunday on Aspen Mountain, is a full-contact version of King of the Hill. It involves dozens of young, virile men running, skiing and jumping their way down the hill before clawing their way up a wall of snow to reach a bikini-clad woman holding a big wad of cash.
“I think the race is a combination of the running of the bulls at the beginning, when everybody’s all tangled up at the top,” said Mark Kweicienski, a Basalt resident interviewed after last year’s melee. “It’s a very exciting race, different than any other race that’s around here.
“It combines sprinting, shoving, putting skis on, passing, being courageous, holding back, knowing when to go for it, and then there’s the mosh pit down here at the bottom.”
The race starts around noon Sunday on Ruthie’s Run, about a third of the way down. If the start format is similar to past years – but organizers are making no promises that it will be – the racers will run, carrying their skis for the first hundred yards or so.
After the foot race is over, the racers will click into their bindings and head down Ruthie’s toward the runoff near Aztec. Before reaching the edge of the very steep Aztec, however, the course turns onto Summer Road, cruises past Mooney Hollow and rejoins Ruthie’s Run.
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As they break out of the trees on Summer Road, the racers will turn up onto a jump that throws them up into the moguls that run under the Ruthie’s chair. They’ll ski down the steep, lower reach of Ruthie’s, picking up speed as they fly past the restaurant and hit another jump that launches them onto Spring Pitch.
The course follows the traditional route World Cup races have followed over the years down Spring Pitch curving past Cork Screw Gully and onto Strawpile. But the Wild Dashers will have to negotiate another jump at the top of Strawpile before veering off the run and onto another road, disappearing into the trees before coming out – in a tuck, no doubt – and crossing the face of Ajax to Little Nell.
“Hell on Nell” commences once the racers reach bottom, at the west side of the gondola at the bottom of the mountain. There they will face an 8-foot to 10-foot wall of snow, on top of which will stand two scantily clad women holding wads of cash.
“Every time I got close, five different people pulled me off. Everyone was either hoisting or falling. It was definitely anything goes,” said racer Fletcher Yaw in an interview with The Aspen Times after last year’s race.
The first racer to the top will win $5,000. The first team to get all four members on top will win the remaining $2,500.
In previous seasons it began near the Sundeck Restaurant on top of the mountain and finished midway down. Race organizer Hansi Brenninger said the course has been moved off the top of the mountain this year so the finish can be located at the bottom of Little Nell.
A barbecue, with beer, a DJ and a raffle, is also planned at the bottom of the mountain beginning a little after 11 a.m.
The Wild Dash for Cash, in its fourth season, is one of Aspen’s unique events. Brenninger, who fashioned the race after a similar though much more tame event in Australia, said he can think of only one other venue, in Austria, with a similar event.
Brenninger said the race has been a challenge to put on this year, as sponsors have tightened their belts. “We had to scramble to get it together this year,” he said.
But in the end Whiskey Rocks, the bar located in the St. Regis Hotel, and a host of other sponsors came through. Brenninger also expressed gratitude to “a lady named Cheryl” who has helped him pull it all together.
Teams of four can sign up for an entry fee of $160; individual racers can enter for $50. Registration begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday at the finish area. Pre-race course inspection begins at 10 a.m., and the race begins about noon.
Great views can be found along Ruthie’s Run, on the Ruthie’s Restaurant deck, on the skier’s right of Spring Pitch and, of course, at the bottom.
An apres-ski party with film of the day’s event will commence at Whiskey Rocks at 4 p.m.
For more information, call Hansi at 948-3426 or go to http://www.skihansi.com.
[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]