Ski races a vital Vail tradition, locals say |

Ski races a vital Vail tradition, locals say

STEVE LYNN eagle county correspondent

VAIL A 40-year-old ski-race series faces being canceled next year if thenonprofit that hosts it cannot find a sponsor by Friday.It just would be a shame to see it die out, said Nate Smith, who has skiedin the series of races almost every year since he moved to the Vail Valley17 years ago. The Vail Town Race Series is supposed to start Jan. 9 and run everyWednesday morning until Feb. 27. But the ski, snowboard and telemark raceswont take place if Ski & Snowboard Club Vail cannot find a sponsor, saidJennifer Vance, development director for the organization.Founded in 1962, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail counts among its athletes WorldCup ski racer Lindsey Vonn, snowboarder Broc Waring and skiers andsnowboarders of all abilities and ages.Money from sponsorships and entry fees from the race series has gone toskiing and snowboarding programs at the nonprofit, which gets about a thirdof its budget from fundraisers, Vance said.This year, the organization just wants to save the race series, which hasbeen breaking even and has had only one large sponsor in the past fouryears, Vance said. The whole reason we dont want to let go of it is that its been around forso long, she said.Legendary eventEveryone from average ski racers to professionals shows up to race in theVail Town Race Series, skiers said.A few years ago, World Cup ski racer Sarah Schleper showed up at the racesand crushed all the guys, said Smith, who also is know by his ski-racingname, Natron.How cool was that? Smith said.Around 100 skiers used to show up for the legendary event, he said.All these things would be cut off if there was no town race, he said. Tome its just a bummer.At one time, the race series was one of the largest of its kind in thecountry, but lately only 25 to 30 racers have shown up, Vance said.Its been pretty sad, she said.In the coming years, the organization wants to get the race series back towhat it used to be, she said.Wed love to have it be a big, exciting part of winter for the community,she said.Decline of the seriesThe race series lost its appeal when many of the races were moved to VailMountains Black Forest Nastar race course, which isnt as steep as GoldenPeak, where the races used to be held, skiers said.And competition from other races, such as the Beaver Creek Town Race Series,has made racers chose one or the other, said Brett Snyder, who has raced inthe series. An increasing number of events being held on Golden Peak have prevented theVail Town Race Series from holding all its races there, Vance said.Franz Fuxi Fuchsberger, who also has skied in the race series, said thatSki & Snowboard Club Vail has not focused enough on the series to make itsuccessful. Fuchsberger compared building a good ski-racing team to makingthe race series successful.You have to organize it and put your mind to it, Fuchsberger said.Skiers need some kind of race on Vail Mountain, Fuchsberger said.Locals need to have something to kind of unleash themselves, he said.The race series is a fun way to test ones talents against Vails bestskiers, said David Viele, who has raced in the giant slalom and slalom, thetwo races in the series.Its one of the important traditions in town, and I would certainly bedisappointed if they didnt have it, Viele said.Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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