Grateful Ed returns to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s Enduro for 26th year in a row |

Grateful Ed returns to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s Enduro for 26th year in a row

Photos and text by David Gidley
Special to the Daily
"Dead-Head Ed" Boardman, formerly of Summit county, aka "Grateful Ed", gets a roar of congratulations from the crowd while skating into the bottom of the Pali chair for one more lift to complete his final run at the end of the day on Wednesday. Boardman, now of Crested Butte, is the only person to have finished every Enduro race held at Arapahoe Basin since its inception in 1989. Boardman exclaimed after the race "My whole world revolves around this day every year!"
David Gidley/Special to the Daily |

This year’s Enduro at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area benefited Mattie Walton, an A-Basin employee who has battled breast cancer over the last year.

There were over 30 teams of two that took laps riding up the Pallavicini (aka “Pali”) chair and either skied or snowboarded down the mountain on designated lines from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. without stopping. There were only six snowboard entrants this year.

The event, in its 26th year, has a special significance for “Dead Head” Ed Boardman, who has not missed an Enduro since its inception in 1989.

“My whole world revolves around this day every year” Boardman said.

Boardman always stands a head above the rest of the competitors, and he’s usually grinning ear to ear. Wearing a flamboyant, psychedelic and tie-dyed version of the Grateful Dead bear, Boardman races down the steeps of the double-black-diamond runs all day with a positive attitude that has earned him a second nickname — “Grateful Ed.”

Now if you’ve lived in these parts long enough, you would know that Summit County was once his stomping ground. Boardman lived in Summit for 11 years from 1984 to 1995. But Ed took a turn to the south and ended up in the more remote and eclectic ski-bum town of Crested Butte in 1996. He took a sous chef position at the remote cat-skiing base of Irwin just outside of Crested Butte.

“I’m a little better skier than when I left here” Boardman said. He also competes in several equally grueling ski competitions in Crested Butte every year.

He still has longtime friends in Summit County, and the Enduro is his excuse for a pilgrimage to the father land of ski-bum-dom for a nostalgic reunion.

Boardman tries to get as many laps as he is years old: another tradition. “I had a goal to at least do my age of 53 and got 57! I was so happy the weather cooperated,” he said.

Boardman partnered up with Summit local Jamie Airey this year and created the team known as Jerry’s Kids. Conditions on the Pali steeps were hard-packed bullet proof to icy, and early in the morning the weather was not inspiring optimism.

“At 6:30am it was blowing and snowing. It was a very hard day. Of the 26 Enduros it was the hardest one!” Boardman said.

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