Several weeks ago, an idea was born. Tonight, the idea becomes reality.
The newest addition to Frisco's recreation offerings, the Ski Tour Training Series, launches tonight at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. It takes advantage of the exploding alpine touring trend and its associated growth in randonee racing.
Sprint races are all the rage in Austria, involving multiple transitions on short courses. Local skier and Frisco race assistant Michael Hagen saw the tubing hill as an ideal candidate for a similarly styled event. And thus was born the Ski Tour Training Series.
"Mike (Hagen) helped us work out a course," Frisco recreation programs manager Linsey Kach said. "We wanted to create an opportunity for them to practice transition, getting familiar with your gear, moving in and out of your bindings."
The series is geared toward both avid racers and those just hoping to learn.
"We will have some people around to give tips and techniques," Kach said. Like Hagen.
"(The Ski Tour Training Series) capitalizes on the fact that (the venue) is not big. It's not the disadvantage, it's the advantage. We'll capitalize on that and have lots of laps and lots of transitions where people can practice," Hagen said. "It will be interesting, but not technically difficult."
To make it less intimidating, the race isn't quite a race. There's no official timer. Instead, it's a 45-minute window where participants can track how many laps they can complete. There are no prizes, just giveaways.
"It's not like you're going up to Peak 8, it's to help you work on your transitions," Kach said.
Each race costs $10 and takes place at the Frisco Day Lodge (which conveniently has refreshments and beverages for sale for family and friends wanting to watch). Tonight is the first race, followed by two others: March 8 and March 15. It all kicks off at 6:30 p.m. - a time set so interested racers from the Front Range can join.
Because it's at night, a headlamp is required. So are skins.
"It's more geared toward touring/alpine types of skis," Kach said. "You can't have just scales, because it's to work on those transitions."
Those who want to participate but don't have equipment can call Wilderness Sports in Dillon, an event sponsor that rents the gear.
To kick off the series, Hagen plans to do a free clinic at 6 p.m. to walk people through the idea of transitions, which can save up to an hour in certain races with multiple directional changes. If it takes a racer 15 minutes to switch from uphill to downhill mode and vice-versa, four transitions can cost him or her a lot of time.
Some racers will be among the ranks of those looking to do the Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race in Aspen, the Winter Mountain Games in Vail, the Grand Traverse in Crested Butte, Arapahoe Basin's The Grind, Breckenridge's The imperial Challenge and more - like the more casual Breck Ascent Series or the rumored return of Arapahoe Basin's randonee series.
"It's a great workout and a great race for serious people," Hagen said. "It's a great training opportunity. It's more fun than training. The climb is a couple of minutes and then a transition. By the nature of the course, it's a tremendous interval workout. ... It's the definition of a high-intensity workout. Add the competition, and it's a fantastic workout that can be harder than people would do on their own."
Hagen added the course will include flat sections that will encourage participants to skate - which is important, because often, skating is faster than using skins and climbing.
Can splitboarders come?
Hagen paused as he considered the prospect before he said yes.
"They are welcome. The transitions are much slower, so they're at a huge disadvantage against skiers, but if there's a couple of them, they can battle against each other," he said.