Vail Recreation District’s first ’true’ skimo race attracts dozens from out of area

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Peter Davis of Eagle finished third in the male 40 to 59 division at the Vail Recreation District's first-ever ski mountaineering race on Saturday.
Bobby Cornwell photo

VAIL — A first-of-its-kind ski mountaineering race from the Vail Recreation District attracted dozens of out-of-town competitors to the area on Saturday.

The Meadow Mountain venue provided a more authentic ski mountaineering race atmosphere, according to organizers and competitors, which the recreation district had not been able to achieve in its on-resort races at Beaver Creek’s Arrowhead ski area.

Meadow Mountain is accessed through the U.S. Forest Service’s Holy Cross Ranger Station near Dowd Junction.

“This was our first true skimo race,” said Beth Pappas with the Vail Recreation District. “Really it was our first winter event not at a resort property.”

The recreation district holds a permit with the Forest Service to hold a summer event at Meadow Mountain, which made it easier to secure a winter event, Pappas said. Nevertheless, the Meadow Mountain event is a one-off for this season, as it took a lot of effort to put on.

“I wish we could have one every weekend,” Pappas said. “The demand is there.”

The event filled at 80 competitors; 64 finished the race, and 41 of those were from outside of Eagle County.

“People are a little bit desperate to race,” said Jill Seager, who won the women’s expert division.

Seager said she’s often seeking races from around the state and said a lot of races have been canceled this season. She said seeing the large turnout of out-of-town competitors to Vail’s race was “good and bad.”

“I know we’re in a pandemic and we all need to make smart decisions and think about risk assessment and what you want to do, but it’s cool to have the opportunity,” Seager said.

Many other ski mountaineering races in the area have been canceled this season. Summit County’s series is being held as a virtual event.

Seager described Vail’s race as a backyard-style competition, with entry-level divisions that make it less intimidating for those curious about entering the sport.

And in recent years, more and more people have been curious about entering the sport, Seager said. She has been racing for five years with her husband, Ross Herr, and said every time they show up to a race there’s more people.

“I think Vail is getting in at the right time and these races are absolutely going to continue to grow,” she said.

But with this season’s COVID-19-related limitations, the sport has been stifled just as it was starting to take off. The U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association was forced to cancel its national championship event and national team this season, as the national championship qualifying events — originally planned for Eldora Mountain and Sunlight Mountain in Colorado — were canceled.

Seager and Herr live in Silverthorne; Herr grew up in Eagle County. He said some of his earliest memories of uphill touring come from Meadow Mountain.

“It was one of the first places I went to figure out how my AT bindings work, and to skin uphill,” he said.

Those alpine-touring or AT bindings, along with a pair of skins under your skis, make up the essential gear for ski mountaineering. And as it rose in popularity, naturally, the competitive element of the activity also rose in popularity. Herr said the whole reason he was racing Saturday was because his friend, Doug Stenclik, and him often rib each other about who is faster in removing the skins and adjusting their set-ups to go back down the hill after traveling up.

“It’s sort of fun to poke fun at your friends when they’re slow in their transition (from touring to alpine and back), or when they’re fumbling with their gear,” Herr said. “So ski mountaineering races are sort of that opportunity to go out with your buddies to show off that you’re faster at that stuff.”

The Meadow Mountain course was 2 miles long, with 800 feet of vertical gain. Competitors in the expert division completed three laps, the intermediate division did two and the beginners did one.

Pappas said while the demand is there to have more ski mountaineering races, her team is not quite ready to make it a regular thing yet. This race required a lot of volunteer service – longtime underground skimo racing host Dawes Wilson spent hours helping set up the course.

“Dawes was super helpful in designing the course and packing the skin track in,” Pappas said.

Nevertheless, “I think this is definitely something we will consider again for next season,” Pappas said. “The reviews were really positive.”

The Vail Recreation District will hold a snowshoe race at the Vail Nordic Center on March 13.

Complete results below:

Expert division

Male 20 To 39

  1. Collin Chartier, 48:19, Littleton, CO
  2. Matthew Fox, 49:14, Palo Alto CA
  3. Ross Herr, 50:04, Silverthorne, CO
  4. Doug Stenclik, 50:23, Carbondale CO
  5. Paul Mumford, 52:15, Leadville CO
  6. Tyler Jones, Edwards CO
  7. Jimmy Howe, 58:02, Boulder CO
  8. Tyler Eaton, 1:01:15, Edwards CO
  9. Stephen Rosenman, 1:04:42, Frisco CO
  10. Franklin Mansseh, 1:09:03, Carbondale CO
  11. Alister Ratcliff, 1:11:57, Avon CO
  12. Andrew Nordyke, 1:21:20, Leadville CO
  13. William Stephens, 1:24:06, Englewood CO
  14. Aashish Kabra, 1:32:06, Glenwood Springs CO
  15. Jonathan Zeschin, 1:38:01, Denver CO
  16. Taff Dirks, 2:07:55, Denver CO

Female 20 To 39

  1. Jill Seager, 59:26, Silverthorne CO
  2. Alyssa McBride, 1:18:41, Boulder CO
  3. Ryan Ernstes, 1:21:20, Boulder CO
  4. Elisabeth Meinig, 1:28:15, Longmont CO

Male 40 To 59

  1. Ryan Koster, 57:51, Aspen CO
  2. Brett Donelson, 1:00:09, Edwards CO
  3. Peter Davis, 1:09:22, Eagle CO
  4. Andrew Letherby, 1:10:52, Leadville CO
  5. Kevin Roop, 1:14:44, Edwards CO
  6. Dan Ben-Horin, 1:17:04, Whitewater CO
  7. Dan Timm, 1:17:29, Vail CO
  8. Henry Reed, 1:21:15, Edwards CO
  9. Julius Kovats, 1:21:25, Manitou Springs CO
  10. Tim Meyer, 1:33:21, Vail CO

Female 40 To 59

  1. Jaime Brede, 1:03:13, Breckenridge CO
  2. Jaime Bakeman, 1:24:22, Englewood CO

Male 60 & over

  1. Dawes Wilson, 1:13:45, Vail CO
  2. Guy Gadomski, 1:18:59, Dillon CO
  3. Paul Gotthelf, 1:28:39, Edwards CO
  4. Thomas McParlan, 1:36:55, Edwards CO

Female 60 & over

  1. Ellen Miller, 1:45:13, Vail CO

Intermediate division

Female 19 & under

  1. Delilah Staberg, 58:10, Silverthorne CO
  2. Lyla Lanning, 1:15:28, Boulder CO

Male 20 To 39

  1. Tyler Chartier, 50:01, Denver CO
  2. Eddie Rogers, 56:04, Steamboat Springs CO

Female 20 To 39

  1. Ariana Schiff, 1:05:57, Woody Creek CO
  2. Hannah Hesser, 1:07:33, Dillon CO
  3. Lynn Hall, 1:11:58, Leadville CO

Male 40 To 59

  1. Douglas Jiminez, 44:29, Avon CO
  2. Jason Staberg, 53:30, Silverthorne CO
  3. Troy Brown, 1:07:08, Gypsum CO
  4. Rory Lanning, 1:14:21, Boulder CO
  5. Edgard Cabanillas, 1:51:00, Vail CO

Female 40 To 59 Award(s)

  1. Abby Brown, 56:59, Gypsum CO
  2. Monica Lacroix, 1:12:26, Broomfield CO

Male 60 & over

  1. Michael Nowicki, 1:02:24, Littleton CO
  2. Rob Balgley, 1:11:03, Eagle CO

Female 60 & over

  1. Eileen Brown, 1:14:09, Frisco CO

Beginner division

Female 19 & Under

  1. Maizy Douglas, 29:21, Vail CO
  2. Katie McDonald, 33:11, Eauclaire WI

Male 20 To 39

  1. Jeffrey Geller, 47:49, Edwards CO
  2. Victor Brena, 1:00:01, Colorado Springs CO
  3. Jose Elio, 1:00:04, Denver CO

Female 20 To 39

  1. Jen VanCleave, 39:46, Littleton CO

Male 40 To 59

  1. Julio Narvaez, 59:05, Colorado Springs CO

Female 40 To 59

  1. McKenna Douglas, 33:14, Vail CO
  2. Monica McDonald, 35:08, Eauclaire WI

Male 60 & over

  1. Tom Fiore, 31:45, Eagle CO

Female 60 & over

  1. Molly Ansfield, 37:32, Eagle CO


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