In a recent article on FasterSkier about the Colorado International Spring Series (CISS), we made a mention of the Fun Leaders Jersey. Soon after, we started receiving many emails. It seems that everyone wants to know more about the Fun Leaders Jersey.
Spring Series has always been a fun, festive way to end the ski season. The recipe is simple. Get the top skiers in North America together, add in a few of Europe's top racers, mix with some sunshine and warm weather to take the cut-throat competitive edge off, and you have yourself a week of exciting skiing and lots of fun.
Spring Series, in its various forms, has been around for years. Rick Kapala and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation perfected the blueprint for the current model in the 90's with their Idaho International Spring Series. This year, race organizer Nathan Schultz and his staff have taken that blueprint, and raised it to a new level. Schultz, a former professional bike racer, as well as long-time member of the Subaru Factory Team, borrrowed a few ideas from cycling to make the CISS a little more interesting.
Claudia Kuenzel starts the race
But the jersey that is creating the most buzz is the Fun Leaders Jersey. The CISS slogan is “Ten days.Â Seven races.Â Six Parties.” So you know right away that fun is a big part of the equation. We asked Schultz to give us a run-down on exactly what the Fun Leaders Jersey is all about.
“We hatched the idea for the Fun Leader's Jersey when we were
ordering bibs and wanted to accentuate how the Colorado International Spring
Series was going to be different from other races,” says Schultz.
“As you know, Spring Series is a time to race hard, play hard and celebrate another successful winter, and this just seemed like the epitome of Spring Series to us.
“We kept the bib a secret until we saw the first deeds worthy of the
fun leader. Eric Meyer, our social coordinator and a very busy man with 6
events/parties during the week, was given full discretion to award the bib
to whoever demonstrated the Spring Series spirit.
“He did not have to keep the secret very long. The bib was first
awarded to Natalie Ward for her tabletop dancing performance at CISS's first
social event Saturday after the Devil's Thumb Classic Opener. Immediately
upon its unveiling, the bright red bib sponsored by Snow Mountain Ranch
became the week's most coveted prize, far above the yellow $1000 Boulder
Center for Sports Medicine Overall Leader's Jersey, the grey $350 Wells
Fargo Climbing Leader and green $350 Devil's Thumb Ranch Sprint Leader
A few years ago at the Idaho International Spring Series, a group of racers (which included Schultz, CISS Assistant Race Director Chris Klein, myself, and many others) came up with a similar idea. We decided to award points to all the racers for each race, and also for each party. All points were based on the World Cup system. Whoever had the most cumulative race and party points at the end of the week was the “Winner” of Spring Series. Things soon got out of hand as people jockeyed for party points. At one point, when police showed up to politely ask us to quiet down a bit one racer begged to be arrested, saying “Please, I need the points!”
Schultz and Meyer were afraid that people might get carried away again this year.
“As we feared, once the cat was out of the bag, instead of genuine
fun, the atmosphere escalated a little too much as people were competing to
be the MOST fun. Luckily, this only lasted a few hours, and the true spirit
of Spring Series prevailed, with clear leaders in genuine, unabashed fun
shining through in Justin Freeman and Kikkan Randall on Sunday night at the
second party of the week to celebrate the conclusion of the first weekend of
“We had a big day on Tuesday with the Salomon Sprints at Devil's Thumb in the
morning and the Wells Fargo Galloping Goose Criterium at 5PM. The sprint
was completed under a scorching sun and perfect conditions at Devil's Thumb
Ranch, thanks to the Devil's Thumb crew and a slew of volunteers who broke
their backs shoveling the course to defend it from the record-breaking heat
wave we've been experiencing.
“We expected that the fun leader jersey would change hands at the
Criterium that night since we had a special surprise on the course – a big
double gap jump on a fast descent. Andy Newell and Aubrey Smith came
through for the red jersey, with Newell throwing several amazing tricks
during the race, including a complete 720 and a 360 from a backwards
approach. Aubrey was a champ after stacking a brutal header on one of the
first practice laps, she came around for another lap and went big with a
huge grin on her face. I was a little nervous after seeing 3 broken skis
and a 25-skier pileup during the junior/citizens races, but everyone came
through with smiles, and even though there were a few sore people the next
day, it will be something people remember fondly for years to come.