‘Brutal’ course tests racers’ strength | AspenTimes.com

‘Brutal’ course tests racers’ strength

Steve Benson
Dave Stapleton takes a gate on his second run during the giant slalom finale of the Aspen Times Town Race Series Saturday at Aspen Highlands. Stapleton finished third in the mens advanced division. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

Referred to by alpine World Cup legend Marc Girardelli as the best all-around giant slalom course in the world, the Aspen Times Town Race Series finale is also one of the toughest.On Saturday, more than 50 of the area’s top alpine ski racers tested their legs, in addition to their skills, on a course that ran from the top of Aspen Highlands’ Golden Horn to the bottom of Thunderbowl – about twice as long as usual.”It’s hard, I’m used to running half the length,” said racer and series timer Mike Britt. “So yeah, it’s brutal.”For the past several years, the final giant slalom has been a marathon muscle-tester.Britt, who finished a frustrating sixth after making an errant adjustment to his boots after his first run, said the challenge is remaining focused as the leg-burn intensifies down the World Cup-length course.”You need full concentration – if you lose your focus for a second you’re done,” he said, adding that natural supplements didn’t aid his stamina on Saturday.

“I took a bunch of sport legs (a supplement that curbs lactic acid) this morning, but I didn’t take enough,” he laughed.Racer Mike Sladdin added that while the course demands mental focus, you really just need to go for broke.”You’ve got to go for it the whole time … if you want to win,” he said.The course is set by local resident and former World Cup racer Dave Stapleton, who has been battling back problems all season but finished third on Saturday.”He set a beautiful course, it was very fair,” said race director Scott Nichols. “The steeps, flats and undulating terrain combined with a great course make the race one of the best.”Added racer Chris Tache: “This is the real thing, a good course Dave set.”

Stapleton posted an overall time – based on two runs – of 2 minutes 27.94 seconds to finish third in the men’s advanced division. But the youngsters stole the show.Former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club racer Toby Lamar posted the best overall time of the day with a 2:26.70. He was followed by 17-year-old AVSC racer Paul Britvar, who finished in 2:27.58.”Good job, Toby,” Britvar said. Britvar just returned from the Junior Olympics in Sugarloaf, Maine, where he finished an impressive fourth overall in the J2 division. With his demanding race schedule consuming most of his winter weekends, this was Britvar’s first Town Series race of the season.”I could have skied better [on Saturday],” Britvar said. “But I’m just doing it for fun … just to say I got to do a Town Series race.”

Nichols said the field in this year’s advanced division, which runs on Saturdays, seemed stronger than in years past, which he partially attributes to Tache Racing.Run by brothers Mike and Chris Tache, the program is offered Tuesdays through Fridays at both Aspen Mountain and Highlands.”Our goal is to keep making everyone better and get more numbers out here,” Chris Tache said.For only $70 a half day including a personalized video, the deal is hard to beat.For additional information on the Tache racing program, call 923-0586.The town series’ recreational division, which includes snowboarders and telemarkers, runs today at Highlands. The series concludes next weekend with the slalom. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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