Keystone’s night race series opens with a bang
KEYSTONE – An old tradition has seen a new light.Keystone brought back its business league races this year, but to compete with the well established recreational races in Copper, Vail and Beaver Creek, the race department decided to storm the gates at night. So far, it’s a success.Seventy racers took part in Wednesday night’s series opener, an enormous number considering as few as 25 or 30 showed up regularly at last year’s series, which had to be canceled mid-season due to low turnout. Biz league regulars Steve Jones, Don Johnson and Jim Gelatt filled out the podium in the men’s alpine division (a vast majority of the racers were alpiners), followed by Jay Sowers of the Keystone race department and Kevin Anderson.On the women’s side, U.S. Ski Team alum Karen Harsch took the top spot, and former Williams College slalom All-American Jenny Seed skied to second. Annie Black finished third, with Lucia Rossi and Courtney Whitman in fourth and fifth.Some arrived in full race gear with clear goggles on Wednesday night (it can be tough to see at night with anything else), while others were not as prepared but competed anyway.”The word spread pretty fast,” Ryan Vannuys, of Summit Cove, said. “The race department was just on top of it, and it brought a lot of people out.”The races took place on the Flying Dutchman trail just down from the top of the River Run gondola. Dave Perrigo, a veteran biz leaguer from Arvada, dug the course. “It’s very well lit, and it’s a very safe run,” he said. Racers could compete as part of a five-person-team, which had to include at least one female, or on their own. The difference between last year’s numbers and Wednesday’s large showing is night and day, and the league went under the lights for exactly this kind of turnaround.The Keystone Biz League is designed to accomodate every type of racer, from the beginner to expert, from the working folks to the ones that are simply addicted to hitting the gates.”A lot of us have to work, so we can’t ski other than on the weekends, and this is hump day, so let’s race,” said Barry Vandezande, who moved to Silverthorne from Indiana just three weeks ago. Vandezande is one of the few competitors with night racing experience. He raced in a Wednesday-night beer league in Indiana before he moved to Summit County, and when he saw the Keystone league had formed, he signed up in earnest. Many of the competitors from Wednesday night will head over to compete in Copper’s biz league this morning at 10 a.m.Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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