Snowmass uphill takes on new meaning for friends of ski instructor |

Snowmass uphill takes on new meaning for friends of ski instructor

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
Friends pull former X Games athlete Sam Ferguson up Buttermilk during a past Challenge Aspen Chris Bove Uphill. Bove, who died in a skiing accident in 2007, was one of the Challenge Aspen instructors who coached Ferguson in monoskiing, and now he participates in the Uphill, now in Snowmass, to support the nonprofit and honor his friend's legacy.
Challenge Aspen/Courtesy photo |

Few events hit home the way the Chris Bove Memorial Uphill does.

Long a winter fundraiser hosted by Challenge Aspen, a few years ago the race donned Bove’s moniker. Bove was a Challenge Aspen ski instructor who was killed in a skiing accident in 2007, and his family has since created a scholarship fund helping valley residents be able to participate in Challenge Aspen’s programs, a cause close to Bove’s heart.

For Sam Fergusons, participating in the uphill is now a personal tribute to someone he called his wingman, friend and coach. A mountain-biking accident left Ferguson paralyzed at age 25, but Challenge Aspen helped him rehabilitate.

“With Challenge Aspen, there were a few instructors who were integral to my early learning,” Ferguson said. “As I became more advanced in my skiing, there weren’t any resources for me in Challenge Aspen.”

Until Bove came along, that is. As one of Ferguson’s coaches, Bove helped him rise to the next level, which was key — Ferguson went on to race full-time, becoming a pioneer in the sport of monoskiing and claiming multiple Winter X Games medals over the years.

“Chris truly understood the power of programs like Challenge Aspen,” Ferguson said. “Giving people back a sense of themselves and pride and going out there and just having fun and not focusing on your disability or the challenges you’re facing on a daily basis.”

Ferguson has participated in the uphill race since it began, but now he is not only supporting Challenge Aspen but paying tribute to his friend. On Feb. 21, a group of his friends — many who also knew Bove — will tie themselves to his monoski and pull him up Snowmass ski area like a dog-sledding team, as they have for years.

“Not once have I ever yelled ‘mush,’” he quipped.

Each year, one individual is chosen to receive financial aid from the Chris Bove Memorial Scholarship. Last year’s race, the first to be held on Snowmass, had 134 participants and raised almost $1,900 of additional scholarship money.

And, it’s fun: The 1.74-mile hike starts in Base Village, climbs up the Funnel run and finishes with a pancake breakfast at the Elk Camp Restaurant.

“It’s amazing the way the community lends their support not only to Challenge Aspen but to all of our valley nonprofits,” said Ferguson, who still lends a hand to Challenge Aspen when he can and recently served as the race chairman for Ski for the Cure, a benefit for Susan G. Komen Colorado.

“When I was racing full-time and needed the support, the community was there for me,” Ferguson said. “This is just my way of giving back. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”

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