Stowe, Vermont is home of The Stowe Derby, the oldest combined downhill/cross-country ski race in North America. Mark your calendar for this 67th annual race on Sunday, January 26th, 2012.
The Derby - What's this all about?
"The Derby", as locals call it, is a skiing race that starts at the top of Vermont's highest peak, Mt. Mansfield, and ends 20km (12.4 miles) and 2,600 vertical feet later in Stowe Village. The race combines down-hill skiing with cross-country skiing...all in one race, all on just one set of skis!
This whole concept started back in 1945 when Austrian Sepp Ruschp (1908-1990) and world famous Norwegian mountaineer, Erling Strom (1897-1986) cooked up a wild race idea. Can't you just hear them? "Oh no, down-hill is the most challenging and difficult", "no, cross-country is...". The Derby was born. (I think the same type of conversation was had when Triathlons were created.)
Mr. Ruschp came to the United States at the invitation of the Mount Mansfield Ski Club to be a ski instructor and coach the University of Vermont team. Mr. Strom and Mr. Ruschp were pioneers in North American skiing and left legacies that helped define winter sports for generations. Sepp Ruschp won the first Derby.
The Race: One pair of skis - two types of terrain:
Just like the first meeting of these amazing skiers 67 years ago, today's race requires skiers to use only one pair of skis for the full race and cover terrain that challenges expert downhill skiers and cross-country skiers. A race of speed or endurance? Well, both! The first racers to cross the finish line will complete the course in 45 minutes.....most skiers will require nearly 2 hours to cover the main race course. Then, there are the Derby Meisters....
Are you a Derby Meister? If you think of this race as a type of "Half Marathon", you can ski a "Full Marathon" and complete the race course TWICE...the first time freestyle (or skating) then then the "classic" which is cross-country skiing. at is designed for both down-hill racing and cross-country. For those familiar with the Stowe area, the course starts at the top of Mt. Mansfield, heads down the "Toll Road" and connects to the Stowe Recreation path. Covering the full length of the 5.2 mile Rec Path, the race ends in Stowe Village.
If you're feeling ambitious and you want to try a Derby or a Derby Meister....registration is open until February 24th here: https://www.skireg.com/net/registration/Confirmed.aspx?EventID=3261
If you've completed the Stowe Derby, let us know! Post a comment. We'd love to hear from you.
Cheers and happy skiing!
Photo Credit: Mount Mansfield Ski Club - Used with Permission
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Caroline DeVore ©2010-2013 Stowe Meadows ©2010-2013