Snowmass to host first Snow BikeCross event this weekend during Passapalooza
Snowmobiling is fun and all, but snow bikes are the new rage in the on-snow motorsports world. Essentially a dirt bike with snowmobile-like tracks instead of wheels, snow bikes made their X Games Aspen debut in 2017 with Brock Hoyer taking the inaugural Snow BikeCross gold at Buttermilk Ski Area.
The rising sport will now make its Snowmass debut this weekend with the Snowmassive Snow BikeCross event on Assay Hill, part of Aspen Skiing Co.’s Passapalooza festivities. Just shy of 40 professionals are expected to compete in the free-to-watch races.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to come hang out and check out some great racing,” said event organizer Joe Duncan, who has helped produce the motorsport races at X Games for more than 20 years. “We have a full sound system, so everyone can hear the announcers and racing. We have a really cool course that the Aspen Skico guys made us with snow and were able to get us built.”
Assay Hill is located near Base Village, next to Viceroy Snowmass. The top of the chairlift is near the Elk Camp Gondola’s midway station. The Viceroy will be open for food and drink with racing going on only 150 feet away. Skiers and snowboarders will be able to access viewing areas along the course (a ticket will be required to access the lifts) while there also will be access for foot traffic.
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The Snowmass races will feature some of the best up-and-coming talent in the sport, although a win this weekend doesn’t guarantee the athletes anything in regards to taking that next step to X Games. However, a good run could lead to an invite.
“We don’t call it a qualifier,” Duncan said. “We kind of call it an invitational. It’s where we look at the next top racers that we would want to come to X Games.”
On top of the pro men, there are divisions for women, youth and adaptive athletes, as well as a mountain/amateur division for some of Aspen’s locals. With a strong winter storm expected to hit the area this weekend, possibly bringing a few feet of snow, there is the chance some races could be canceled. Duncan said inches wouldn’t matter as much as the racers’ ability to see the course.
“A lot of snow doesn’t affect us,” Duncan said. “It’s if it’s windy and the visibility of the snow, that’s going to be the problem.”
Pending any weather issues, there is a practice session Friday from noon to 4 p.m. that is open for viewing. Racing begins Saturday at 11 a.m. and goes until about 4 p.m. Sunday’s races begin at 10 a.m. and wrap up around 2 p.m.
X Games is scheduled to return to Buttermilk Jan. 23 to 26, with the snow bike events set for the weekend.
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Herman is the freestyle skiing winner of the Summit Daily’s Peak Performers project, which honors the greatest athletes and most influential figures in Summit county ski and snowboard history.