Free clinic kicks off Town Race Series |

Free clinic kicks off Town Race Series

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Think you’re a good skier? Think again.Aspen native and former U.S. Ski Team member Dave Stapleton said there’s an easy way to find out. “A lot of people who think they’re really good skiers don’t understand how a ski carves,” Stapleton said. “Then you get them in the gates, where they have to carve a nice turn to complete the turn, and it’s a whole different ballgame. They realize they have no clue what they’re doing.”Stapleton is lending his ski racing experience at a free clinic Sunday at Aspen Highlands. The 3 1/2-hour instruction session by Tache Racing marks the formal kickoff for this season’s Aspen Times Town Race Series.

Those who want to learn to ski, snowboard or telemark better should show up, Stapleton said. “We want to help people who want to become better skiers,” he said. “It’s amazing what gates will do for your skiing. We’re going to be giving pointers on technique and line and looking ahead. It’s amazing because I’ve been doing clinics for many years here, and we’ve seen people make the transition from being true beginners to solid skiers.”Chip Chilson, a former pro racer and a former masters champion in slalom, and Mike Tache, a former U.S. Ski Team member, will also volunteer at the clinic. Both are longtime locals.Registration will be at the Endeavor Cafe on the Highlands Mall from 8:30-10 a.m. The clinic starts at the top of Golden Horn at 10:30 a.m. and wraps up at 2 p.m. The course will be a giant slalom, which will the discipline for three of the eight races in the series, including the first races, Jan. 14-15.The free clinic isn’t just for first-time racers, said Gary Gleason, the marketing coordinator for the series.

“For the people who have raced for years, many of them will come out and run gates and get their timing back,” he said.Stapleton added: “It’s like any sport. There’s always little things you can get better at. … Even Tiger Woods has a coach.”The town series is the longest-running of its kind in the country. Experienced racers ski in the advanced league on Saturdays. Snowboarders, telemarkers and novice skiers race on Sundays. There is a post-race party with prizes, snacks and free beer after each race. There will be a post-race party at Iguana’s Restaurant at the base of Highlands starting at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.This year’s series could be the best in years, Gleason said. Community interest has been high, and a number of new teams have signed up to compete against the series mainstays.

“It’s more than just racing,” Gleason said. “It’s good to be a part of a community tradition. I grew up here skiing here in Aspen. It’s still fun for me, because you get to see the same people over the years.”The series features three slaloms, a downhill and a super G to go with the three giant slaloms. Additions this year include individual titles for slalom, GS and the two speed events and a NASTAR-based scoring system for the Sunday series.Registration information is available at scheduleJan. 8: Tache race clinic at Highlands, party at Iguanas.Jan. 14-15: Giant slalom at Highlands, post-race party at Mezzaluna.Jan. 28-29: Slalom at Highlands, post-race party at McStorlies.Feb. 4-5: Giant slalom at Highlands, post-race party at McStorlies.Feb. 10: Super G at Buttermilk, post-race party at Bumps.Feb. 11-12: Town downhill at Buttermilk, post-race party at the Cantina.March 11-12: Slalom at Highlands, post-race party at Mezzaluna.March 25-26: Giant slalom finale at Highlands, post-race party at the Cantina.April 1-2: Slalom finale at Highlands, season-ending BBQ at the finish area.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is

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