Nordic skiers go green to ‘Keep Winter White’ |

Nordic skiers go green to ‘Keep Winter White’

Janet UrquhartAspen, CO Colorado
Skiers in the women's elite division ascend a hill while competing in the 25-kilometer Owl Creek Nordic Chase from Snowmass to Aspen last February. (Aspen Times file)

ASPEN Cross-country ski enthusiasts can go green as they “Keep Winter White” at a new Nordic event with a climatic focus.The city of Aspen and the Rocky Mountain Nordic Club are teaming up to offer a noncompetitive, cross-country ski tour with a global-warming message. “Keep Winter White” is the theme for the Bappa Tour, a recreational 15-kilometer event Saturday, Feb. 10.The tour coincides with the unquestionably competitive Owl Creek Chase, an annual, U.S. Ski Association-sanctioned, 25-kilometer race from Snowmass to Aspen that attracts elite skiers from around the world. Participants in both the Owl Creek Chase and the Bappa Tour (the latter is a nod to Aspen skiing pioneer Darcy Brown, whose children called him “Bappa”) should get a kick, if not a glide, out of the environmental ethic they’ll be promoting. The Nordic Club has teamed up with the city’s Canary Initiative to purchase offsets for all the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the event (including the emissions generated by those traveling to the race/tour, the grooming of the trails and the heating of buildings for the event). The offsets will be purchased from NativeEnergy, a company that reinvests the purchase price into renewable energy sources. The Canary Initiative has provided a grant to assist the club with the purchase – expected to cost several thousand dollars, according to Ruth Brown, an Aspen resident and president of the Steamboat Springs-based club. (She is also Darcy Brown’s daughter.)

Impetus for the “Keep Winter White” theme came from young racers, Ruth Brown explained. The club oversees Colorado’s junior Nordic programs.”They really wanted to do something to bring awareness to global warming, because winter and skiing is their passion,” Brown said.The Aspen-Snowmass stop is the second on this year’s two-event tour. The first, on a blustery early January day in Summit County, drew more than 300 participants, she said.Plans for next year include four stops on the tour, including Aspen-Snowmass, where Brown would like to see the tour become an annual event.”We already have people in other resorts calling us up and saying, ‘We want to be involved, how can we get involved in this?'” Brown said.

Until now, Colorado has lacked an organized ski tour, though Nordic race events abound, according to Brown. Like the various bicycle tour events that crisscross the state each summer, cross-country ski tours aren’t timed. There are no winners and losers, merely participants who can enjoy a leisurely ski outing – in this case on one of Aspen-Snowmass’ premier Nordic trails. For Bappa Tour participants, there will be stops along the way with food and drink, as well as placards offering information about global warming. Organizers are also working to make the event a zero-waste endeavor, meaning plates and forks at the post-race/tour party will be biodegradable. Food waste will be composted. In addition, Bappa Tour participants will receive educational materials about global warming in their “goodie” bags, and the city will ask inspired participants to pledge to reduce their emissions. Dan Richardson, global warming manager for the Canary Initiative (the city’s program to reduce its contribution to global warming), will speak before the festivities.

The Canary Initiative is offsetting the emissions from the event, but the real hope is that participants will go home inspired to act now to reduce global warming, Richardson said.The 15-kilometer Bappa Tour starts at 10 a.m. near the base of the Two Creeks lift at the Snowmass Ski Area and follows the groomed Owl Creek Trail to the Aspen Cross Country Center. The 25-kilometer Owl Creek Chase begins at 9 a.m. at the Snowmass Cross Country Center. The course follows a loop around the Snowmass Club golf course before connecting to the Owl Creek Trail. The race route then crosses Buttermilk and the Tiehack bridge, and loops around the Moore Open Space and the Aspen Golf Course before finishing at the Aspen Cross Country Center, located at the golf course.The cost of participating in the Bappa Tour is $35 for individuals and $50 for families; children, 17 and younger, may race for free. The entry fee for the Owl Creek Chase, which is also part of the Aspen Town Race Series, is $35 in advance and $45 on race day.To register for either race in advance, or for more information, go to Race day registration at the Snowmass Cross Country Center is between 7 to 8:30 a.m. for Owl Creek Chase competitors and from 7 to 9:30 a.m. for Bappa Tour participants.


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