‘Everybody does the Inferno’ | AspenTimes.com

‘Everybody does the Inferno’

Tim Mutrie
A string of skiers hike Highland Bowl Thursday morning. The question is, what will the string of hikers look like Saturday morning during the fifth annual Inferno race at Highlands? Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Listening to one patroller talk about the Inferno, it’s not about the trophy, the course record or even the competition.”The race is all about, as always, a celebration of everybody who likes to hike the Bowl. Because everybody does the Inferno, whether it’s in the Inferno, or on your first time up in November, or on your first time up period. It’s just about skiing the Bowl,” said the Highlands ski patroller and race organizer who goes, at times, by Bruno Contuli.The uphill and downhill race in Highland Bowl – scale the ridge from the bottom of Mousetrap to the summit, then ski/ride down Ozone to the finish in the runout – marks its fifth annual edition Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.

Last year’s race saw competitors turning their cheeks from lashing westerly winds, a steady 35 mph with gusts up to 50, on the way up. In the absence of the winner of the first three Infernos, veteran Highlands patroller Jimmy Newman (knee), local skier Andre Wille won the elite men’s division. Then, another local, Rick Wilder – climbing with skis and skins, a break from the boot-packing elite division leaders – bettered Wille’s time in the rec., or second, heat. So, just who is the men’s defending champion is still something of a discussion.”I’m ignoring the dual championship part,” Bruno said.And Newman’s course-record time of 25 minutes, 33 seconds (from Inferno II) remains.This year, the elite division is being called the competitive division – “And whoever wins the competitive division is the champion,” Bruno said in clarification.

“Otherwise, everything’s the same. Except, the downhill will jog into G-9 instead of B-One because Be-One is unskiable at this point,” Bruno added, his comments coming before the full brunt of the recent storm was felt.Also new this year, the junior division will not start from the top of the Loge Peak lift, as youths did last year in the junior division debut. Juniors will start with everybody else.”The kid who won last year, Noah [Hoffman], and my kid, who was second, could probably kick my ass. So no breaks for them this year. They’re running the full course,” Bruno said.Registration costs $25 and includes a raffle ticket, a T-shirt and “a chance to race.” Register at the Highlands ticket office in advance and at Loge Patrol until before start. The field is limited to 150 racers, plus 25 juniors. Racers should report to Loge Patrol by 9:45 a.m.; the course will be open for inspection earlier.

Jimmy Newman was contacted yesterday by cell phone. He’s in Silverton, on vacation, doing a lot of backcountry skiing. He’s not sure if he’ll be back in time to race.”I’m sure everybody will be back, Neal Beidleman, Wilder and Wille,” he said. “My guess is that the big hitters will all be back. I don’t know if I’ll be back, though. I’m on vacation.””Healthy? Yeah, I’m healthy. I might not be in very good shape, but I’m healthy. I’m just not sure if I’m gonna be there.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com

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