First E Chair Challenge set for April 14 |

First E Chair Challenge set for April 14

BRECKENRIDGE – An idea that’s been kicked around among Breckenridge skiers for years will finally come to fruition this spring.

The inaugural E Chair Challenge is scheduled for April 14 as part of Breck’s Spring Massive festival. Modeled after Arapahoe Basin’s long-running Enduro, the Challenge will pit 20 teams of two in a seven-hour, most-laps-wins race down the steep bump runs under E Chair.

Rich Banack, who owns Avalanche Sports in Breckenridge, along with local skiers Ryan Behnke and Tom Halmos helped take the event from idle lift-ride chatter to the cusp of reality.

“Tom and I had competed in the Enduro, and we thought it would be nice to have one in our playground,” Banack said.

Last year at this time, about 10 teams had registered for what was supposed to be the event’s premier. But eroding snow made the E Chair terrain unskiable, and the event had to be cancelled. With a 77- to 91-inch base at Breck as of Saturday, this year’s event is not in question.

“That terrain hasn’t been skiing this good in years,” Banack said. “There’s hardly anything (rocks, etc.) sticking through.”

The six official trails under E Chair will be split into 20 different routes. At 9 a.m., each team will start on one randomly assigned route then rotate over one route every lap. Officials will tally the number of lift rides (teammates must ride the chair together), and whichever team makes the most laps by 4 p.m will be the first E Chair Challenge winner. Snowboarders are welcome, and the atmosphere is expected to be festive.

“It’s an excuse for us to get together and ski together on a part of the mountain we enjoy,” said Behnke, who will team up with Banack for the event. Halmos will ski with Ray Kicker.

The key, Banack said, to enduring seven hours of steep mogul skiing is finding the path of least resistance.

“The people that are skiing the smoothest line and avoiding the real deep (ruts) are going to be the ones who do the best.”

Most of the 10 teams that have already expressed interest are from Breckenridge. But organizers hope to recruit some skiers from the other side of the county. Veterans of A-Basin’s Enduro will feel right at home at the E Chair Challenge.

“Anyone who skis the Basin a lot can come over here and be competitive,” Behnke said. Of course, with the Enduro scheduled for April 16 this year – just two days after the E Chair Challenge – doing both may be out of the question.

An awards ceremony will follow. No competitor will walk away empty-handed, and the winners will get free season passes for next season. Also, a raffle will be held as a fund-raiser for Breckenridge resident Armando Tovar, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

To register for the event, call Avalanche Sports at (970) 453-1461 or Halmos at (970) 331-6435. Cost is $100 per team.

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