Stowe Derby drama this weekend

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Want a break from watching
the Winter Olympics to witness the oldest ski race in the country live in
person? Well, the 65th Stowe Derby is this Sunday.

What started as a rival race
between a Norwegian and an Austrian back in 1945 has become one of the most
revered races in skiing – a true test of ski versatility. Equipment has evolved
since Austrian Sepp Ruschp (Stowe’s first ski school director) and Norwegian
Erling Strom first tackled this endurance test (Ruschp won, by the way), but
the essence of the Derby remains. The 10-mile course descends Stowe’s alpine
ski slopes to the NordicCenter and then the
length of Stowe’s recreational path to the finish in Stowe village.

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The Derby now draws over 1,000 competitors of all
ages. Racers must use the same skis for the entire course with a vertical
descent of 3,000 feet. Top competitors complete the grueling race from Mt
Mansfield to Stowe village in about 45 minutes.

If you have never seen the
historical Derby,
picture, Olympics skier cross as throngs charge down Stowe’s twisting

Toll Road

on
squirrely Nordic skis. Then it’s all out cross-country combat (like the
biathlon) to town. Skin-tight suits and skinny skis are the attire, and mass
pile ups are part of the high Alpine, high stakes.

The Stowe Derby now includes a more family-friendly (and supposedly “fun”) race on a short course, along 6 kilometers of
flat terrain for kids and parents. It’s sure to be an exciting weekend in
Stowe. I’ll be watching between runs on Stowe’s
more relaxed Sunrise
and Lord trails.

For more of Heather’s ski
tips and trips go to
www.familyskitrips.com. Photos by Greg Burke.


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