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Optimal Conditions Expected For 69th Stowe Derby

Stowe_Derby_2013_Mike_Hitelman.jpg
Mike Hitelman
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Stowe Derby
A skier navigates a trail lined with onlookers during the 2013 Stowe Derby.

Skiers in Stowe are preparing for the 69th annual Stowe Derby this Sunday, and it's sure to be a wild time for racers and spectators alike. Derby participants, many of whom don outrageous costumes, use a single pair of skis to navigate 20 kilometers from the top of Mt. Mansfield into Stowe Village.

There is a Skating/Freestyle race that starts at 10 a.m. for skiers on telemark skis, alpine gear, split boards, or skate cross country skis. Then there is a Classic race that starts at 12:15 p.m. Groups of five racers start every 30 seconds in each race. Some expert Derby racers enter the Derby Meister, skiing both races back-to-back.

For those looking for an easier ski without the decent, there is a 6-km short course race along the Stowe Recreation Path, starting at 8:30 a.m.

According to the Stowe Derby website, the essence of the race hasn't changed since its inception in 1945.

The Stowe Derby is one of the oldest and most unique ski races in North America. It started in 1945 as a personal challenge between two amazing skiers - Austrian Sepp Ruschp who was hired to come to America and head the new ski school at Stowe, and Erling Strom, world famous mountaineer from Norway. The challenge was the same as it is today - to race from the top of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak to the historic village of Stowe ... on ONE pair of skis! The ultimate test of a skiers ability. Ruschp was the winner of the first Stowe Derby.

Today's Derby is put on by the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club. Organizer Pascale Savard says recent snowfalls have left the lower elevation portions of the course in great shape. She says she expects at least 700 skiers to take to the course this year.

“Snow coverage is better than ever on the cross country ski trails and on the Stowe Recreation Path," said Savard. “Hopefully everyone has had a chance to get out there and ski a little and feels ready to set some goals, ski for fun, or try to achieve a personal best – it’s all good on Derby Day!”

Online registration is open through 2 p.m. Friday. Skiers paying with cash or check can also register in person during early bib pick-up at Stowe High School from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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