Summit Nordic Ski Club hopes to host weekend of roller-ski races in Breckenridge in July
After a few years of kicking around the idea, the Summit Nordic Ski Club’s board of trustees hopes to host a weekend of roller-Nordic ski races in Breckenridge this summer.
Board president Peter Haynes said on Thursday that the Summit Nordic Ski Club is currently going through the requisite permitting and approval process with both the town of Breckenridge and Summit County to host the races on Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28, though nothing has been formally approved yet.
Haynes said the Summit Nordic Ski Club board hopes the first race day will consist of a skate-skiing sprint event, involving a time-trial format similar to cycling where racers would be seeded and compete in heats of two to four skiers, progressing through elimination rounds. The Summit Nordic board would like to host this day of sprint races on Denison Placer Road in front of Colorado Mountain College’s Breckenridge campus.
Haynes wants day two to consist of a classic-skiing competition on Boreas Pass Road, on what would effectively be a 5-kilometer racing segment stemming from Stephen C. West Ice Arena to the top of the paved portion of Boreas Pass Road. The event would feature an interval start, where every 15 seconds a new racer would depart from the starting line.
Pending approval from the county and town, Haynes said the Summit Nordic board hopes that somewhere in the ballpark of 150 athletes would come out for the weekend of races.
“And those racers would be coming from all of the Rocky Mountain Nordic region,” said Haynes, “which includes our club, Boulder, Steamboat, Aspen, Vail, Durango, Gunnison, Crested Butte — all of Colorado. We will also put it out to our surrounding areas: Wyoming and Utah.”
Both Haynes and Summit Nordic head coach Olof Hedberg said a roller-Nordic skiing event like this is unprecedented in Colorado. Haynes said roller-skiing events of a smaller magnitude have been held in Utah while there are larger-scale events on the East Coast organized by the New England Nordic Ski Association. In a perfect world, the Summit Nordic board envisions a weekend of Breckenridge events ultimately becoming a perfect complement to the New England association’s summer circuit.
“We’ve been talking about it for three years now,” Haynes said of hosting a roller-ski race in Breckenridge. “And we’d always gotten to spring and early summer and said, ‘Darn, it’s too late to put this together and plan it.’ We actually started thinking about it this winter while we were in the midst of the winter race season, to prepare for getting permits in this year. So we finally got ourselves together and got the right race committee together to help pull this off.”
The inspiration behind the idea to host a roller-ski event stemmed from the fact that Summit Nordic athletes train extensively on roller-Nordic skis each summer and autumn. Haynes also said the predominance of roller-ski races in Europe served as an inspiration for the group of Summit County locals to host something on the home front. Hedberg, who grew up roller-ski racing in Sweden, said a Breckenridge race would help Colorado catch up to what many European youth experience in places like Scandinavia. Hedberg also has fond memories of family roller-ski races as a child.
“My brother raced the World Cup on roller skis,” Hedberg said. “And I have raced competitively in roller-ski races and there is an increased benefit of drafting because of the lower-friction environment. It becomes like a bike race.”
Haynes also emphasized how an event like the one the Summit Nordic board is planning would serve as an ideal mid-summer rendezvous for members of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Nordic community.
“And I also think the community here in Summit County will appreciate this style of event,” Haynes said. “It is a very difficult sport, between the athletic endurance that is needed, the technique that is needed — it’s a very demanding sport. So I really think the community is going to wrap itself around this and be happy to see this.”
Haynes said the town and county permitting process for the roller-ski event involves the kind of elements customary of most any sporting event that would be held on town and county property, taking into account such variables as road closures, police presence, medical coverage, trash cleanup and parking.
“We are really trying to lessen the impact on the community while holding a great event,” he said.
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