Snowmass uphill takes on new meaning for friends of ski instructor
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.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Kenichi will open its third location in Snowmass Base Village in summer 2021, with the proposed space being remodeled this winter.