Enduro World Series makes lone U.S. stop in Aspen Snowmass this weekend | SummitDaily.com

Enduro World Series makes lone U.S. stop in Aspen Snowmass this weekend

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times

The Enduro World Series is back for a second go in Snowmass this weekend, and the nation will be watching.

"It's a big deal for the biking community across the country," David Elkan, who serves as a special events consultant for the town of Snowmass, said. "This is one of the most prestigious mountain bike events to happen on U.S. soil this year. It's all the best riders in the world."

Elkan is once again helping set up the course for the two-day event Saturday and Sunday. The Enduro World Series began in 2013 and has become the flagship tour for the sport's top athletes. The 2017 schedule includes eight stops, this weekend's stop being No. 6 on the list. The EWS has already hit New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Ireland and France this season.

This weekend's trip to Aspen and Snowmass is the only EWS stop in the United States this season. The riders will be in Whistler, Canada, on Aug. 13, before wrapping up the season Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 in Italy.

“The top-to-bottom Aspen stage has become one of the longest, most intense stages that they face.”David ElkanSnowmass special events consultant

"We are thrilled that the Enduro World Series is coming back to Snowmass. Having Enduro in Snowmass puts our mountain bike offerings in focus for some of the best riders in the world," Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism, said. "We are excited about the caliber of riders that are here for the race, and pleased that the riders will likely amplify their experience in Snowmass on social media and elsewhere."

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Enduro is becoming an increasingly hot ticket in the mountain bike world. It combines your standard cross-country racing with the thrill of downhill riding. The Enduro World Series competitors in Snowmass will face three stages on Saturday and three stages on Sunday. The winners will be the ones with the lowest cumulative time on the downhill portion of the courses.

The kicker is that the riders have to first get to the start lines, which can include thousands of feet of vertical climbing. While the transitions aren't included in their finish times, riders only have a finite window to make it from the finish of one stage to the start of the next.

Thus the play on the word "endurance" in Enduro racing.

"It's wild. I'm hooked," Elkan said. "They have to carry all their gear, all their supplies. It's not lap after lap after lap on a chairlift. They have to transition. Sometimes it can be as much as 3,000 or 4,000 feet of climbing just to get to the various starts."

Free for spectators, action will start at 7:30 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday and continue well into the afternoon. There is a continuous flow to the format, each rider being timed individually, meaning there should be relatively continuous action on all of the stages throughout the day.

Friday will be a training day for the riders.

The stages will feature two of the area's iconic routes — Stage 2 on Saturday being a climb up Aspen Mountain before a descent back to the base, and the "Banzai DH" Stage 6 in Snowmass on Sunday — with at least two of the other stages being 100 percent new routes compared to a year ago.

"We pride ourselves on being able to change them up every year," Elkan said. "The top-to-bottom Aspen stage has become one of the longest, most intense stages that they face. In Snowmass, we've always prided ourselves on the Banzai downhill, (in) which we've been testing the top riders in the world going on almost 20 years."

Elkan said the Banzai course, which finishes just up from Fanny Hill in Snowmass, will provide some of the best viewing for spectators. Outside of the Aspen Mountain stage, the entirety of the EWS will take place in Snowmass Village.

There is a final awards ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday. Around 400 riders are expected to compete.

"One of the reasons this is such a great event for the town of Snowmass is the amount of national and international guests staying in the village," Elkan said on Monday. "Many of the international teams have already arrived and they are going to stay for the whole week. So it's a really, really great event for the town."

For complete details, visit EnduroWorldSeries.com.

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