In the mining days of the 1800’s, Crested Butte’s historic Elk Ave was designed wide enough to turn a team of horses, which works just about perfectly for a ski stadium and a different type of thoroughbred. Over night the town of Crested Butte transformed its main street into a race venue four snow-cats wide and 4 blocks long, and firmly cemented it’s standing as Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town. In a unique point-to-point mass start format, skiers worked their way up early climbs from the outskirts of town to the top of the old Kebler Pass road. Then it’s a tricky descent, complete with banked hairpins, before screaming onto Elk Ave, in the heart of Crested Butte's historic downtown.
In the girls races it was the Perkins sisters from Summit County that stole the show.
Brittany captured her first win of the season in the J1/OJ class with strong climbing and calculated daring on the technical descent into town. With six blocks of city streets between her and the finish, Brittany cleared the banked 180-degree turn and then cruised back up Elk Ave to secure the Gold. Tiffan Wannamaker (Durango) chased down Haliegh Armstrong (Vail) at the line to capture Silver.
In the J2 Girls, Brianna skied clean lines through the hairpins to outdistance the competition to the line. Ryne Olsen (Durango) couldn’t answer Brianna’s attack but held off Laura Hatanaka (Aspen) to take 2nd.
In the J1/OJ boys, a tight tactical race had the pack bunched up through the early climbs. Sylvan Ellefson (Vail), Marty Smith (Steamboat), and Ian Havlick (Boulder) broke away from the pack on the final climbs before rocketing down the banked downhill onto Elk Ave. Going into the hairpin at the bottom of Elk, it looked like anybody’s race but Ellefson and Havlick surged with 400m to go and break away from Smith. The crowd jammed the fences to catch the duel to the line. Ellefson edged Havlick for the Gold by 0.5 of a second.
Noah Hoffman (Aspen) took charge of the J2 Boys race on the tough climbs towards the top of the course and pulled ahead of Miles Havlick (Boulder) and Tyler Reinking (Summit). Unaccustomed to being out in front of the pack, Noah said â€œhe was skiing scaredâ€ down Elk Ave en route to his first RMD victory. In the last month Hoffman’s finishes have jumped from the middle to the top of the results page. I expect he’ll have to live with his fear (or at least that of Miles) for quite some time. Havlick placed a solid 2nd and Reinking pulled his first podium of the year .
The Mayhem on Main Street continued in Crested Butte with Saturday’s 2-Person Sprint Relay. The scramble leg had one block to fight it out for the narrow hole-shot over the 15-foot high table-top jump which will be used for this evening’s big air contest. Plummeting down the steep lip of the jump, skiers continued up Elk Ave (main street) then headed into the snow drenched alleys to circle back onto Elk and complete the 1.2K loop. January’s 100-inch storm, blue-bird conditions, funky tunes, and two MC’s kept the party jumpin’ as athletes cranked through the historic Victorian-era downtown.
Unknown to the athletes and spectators, the event came within a hair’s breadth of being cancelled after the 2 out of 3 snow cats broke down the night before the race. Bob Gillie’s town crew and the Nordic Center’s groomers Nicky Burns and Dan Law were left to cover over 1K of streets with just one working cat and no tiller. Not to mention groom the 42K Alley Loop Marathon course. Working on two days of no-sleep, the crew refused to buckle and laid out perfect rock-hard corduroy complete with banked turns and the massive table-top jump. Hat’s off to the snow crew and army of volunteers that made the impossible happen. Now for the other drama.
OJ/J1 Boys: the Battle of the Brothers. Skiing up a class, Boulder’s Miles Havlick joined his brother Ian to take on Durango’s dynamic duo: the Elliott twins. At last year’s sprint relay in Crested Butte, the Havlick’s defended the family honor and laid waste to the J2 class. This year Miles turned in the Ironman performance by racing both the J2 & J1 classes to fill in for the ailing J1 Calvin Delamere. Was he biting off too much? Tad Elliot took it out hard on the scramble leg and put Evan in a position to fight for the win. And fight he did. Evan poured it on in the final leg to take Gold ahead of the Summit OJ team of Pete Richmond and Kyle Ahern. After getting nipped at the line in Friday’s Mass Start for the Silver, Ian posted a close 3rd overall and brought the Havlick’s Silver in the J1 class.
The OJ/J1 girls was notable for the impressive costumes from Durango’s Krysia â€œCrabbyâ€ Krabtree and Tiffan â€œHot Pantsâ€ Wannamaker. The costumes and the cheers they garnered helped them to 3rd place. Durango’s Maggie Casey and Caitlin Cassidy put the pedal down from the start to pull away from the pack and claim Gold. Boulder’s Lindsay Records and Elise Gill were in hot pursuit, trying to reel in Casey/Cassidy but ran out of street, placing them in 2nd.
The J2 boys saw some new faces on the podium with Boulder taking the top 2 spots. Ryan Scott and Trevor Petach aced the field with good ski handling over the monster lip of the jump and pure speed. Together with Trevor Petach, Miles took his 3rd Silver of the weekend ahead of Tyler Reinking and Tom Sawyer.
Holland Breed’s early lead held up and partner Ryne Olson took it in for the win. Steamboat’s Melissa Krause and Mary Rose kept it close with impressive performances from a 1st year skier and a J3. Durango’s Erin Casey also skied up a class with her partner Katie McLean to claim Bronze.
Shortly after the Relays wrapped up, the 19th Annual Alley Loop Marathon began on Elk, giving coaches, parents, and spectators just enough time to line up for Crested Butte’s signature event. In classic Crested Butte style, sharp costumes are just as important as skiing fast, and ideally your design allows for both objectives. As the over 300 racers wound through town, they were greeted by revelers at back yard barbecues and snow forts.
Thanks again to all the volunteers that made the weekend possible as well as our sponsors: Elk Mountain Lodge, Studio West Interior Design, and Holbrook & Guy General Contractors.
Pictures of all racers & races available Sunday evening at: http://www.printroom.com/pro/ladoulis
SA sprint J1/OJ Boys (Chris Ladulis photo)