ASPEN, CO — Hundreds of Nordic skiers began arriving in Aspen Monday night for the upcoming Aspen Nordic Festival set for Thursday through Sunday. The festival’s highlight is one of Colorado’s favorite annual events, the 21st Owl Creek Chase from Snowmass to Aspen presented by the City of Aspen Parks and Recreation department and The Ute Mountaineer. Added this year for the first time are Thursday and Friday events to create a unique 4-day festival on cross country skis. Over 500 skiers are expected for the weekend which is featured in several race series, including the USSA SuperTour, the FIS Marathon Cup, the Colorado Cup, the Rocky Mountain Junior tryout series, the Keep Winter White Tour Series and of course, the Aspen Town Series. Kids of all ages as well as Olympians past, present and future will be participating in the festival which kicks off at 9am on Thursday at the Aspen Valley Ski Club.
Thursday events feature national SuperTour and Downtown Sprints. 5 and 10 kilometer, SuperTour classical races start things off Thursday morning at 9am at the Aspen Valley Ski Club trails. Adjacent to Aspen High School, the AVSC trails are the standard for excellence in the Roaring Fork Valley and feature tough climbs and speedy descents. These trails will test the classical style skills of some of the best racers in the country, including Aspen’s Noah Hoffman, fresh off an overall 8th place at the recent U.S. Championships. The USSA SuperTour is the national pro circuit for Nordic skiers and Aspen is the 9th stop on the tour.
Thursday night will feature the quarter horses of Nordic in a 80m drag race sprint tournament at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. Another local racer, Natalie Ward, is the defending women’s champion in the sprint drag races, and is expected to challenge for another title this Thursday night. Action starts at 5:30PM at Wagner Park on Thursday.
Nordic Youth Festival set for Friday. The AVSC will also host Friday’s races, an exciting day for kids 13 and under. This is a very captivating event with youths from around Colorado meeting to compete at the entry level. It is truly exciting to see the youngest racers going at it head to head. Racing begins at the AVSC trails on Friday at 9am.
Owl Creek Chase continues to grow. The 21st Owl Creek Chase begins on Saturday morning at the Snowmass Cross Country Center at 9am. This epic event takes in the beautiful Owl Creek Trail from Snowmass to Aspen along its 25 kilometer route. The Owl Creek’s fabulous scenery and point to point format make it one of Colorado’s most popular events year in and year out. The SuperTour affiliation has again brought some of the toughest racers in North America to Aspen and 2-time defending women’s champion Kristina Strandberg will have her hands full trying to 3-peat. Olympic skier and biathlete, Sarah Konrad will challenge Strandberg all the way from Snowmass to Aspen as well as last year’s 2nd place, Evely Dong. On the men’s side, look for Lars Flora and Andrey Golovko to challenge former champion and last year’s runner-up Zack Simons as well as former World Champion Nordic Combined skier Johnny Spillane. For those not quite up for the entire 25k course but still looking to race, this year the Owl Creek Chase will also offer a less competitive 15k event in addition to the regular 25k.
Bappa Tour in 2nd season. Last year the Owl Creek Chase in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Nordic presented the first ever Bappa Tour, named for patriarch of Aspen’s Brown family, Darcy Brown. The Bappa Tour returns for a second time this year, once again part of Rocky Mountain Nordic’s Keep Winter White Tour Series. The Keep Winter White series purchases alternative energy credits to off-set the carbon footprint of the entire event, a unique opportunity to save a little guilt in this age of climate change. The Owl Creek Chase is honored to be part of the Bappa Tour and the Keep Winter White series.
Skate with the Pros on Sunday. A free clinic, Skate with the Pros, at the Aspen Cross Country Center, wraps things up on Sunday morning. Come out and learn the finer points of cross country ski skating with pros from the Factory Team and Fischer/Craft, the clinic starts at 10am and is free of charge.
Aspen Nordic Festival details
Schedule of events
Thursday Feb. 7th
9AM, 5/10k SuperTour classical races, AVSC trails
5:30 PM, AVSC Downtown Sprints, Wagner Park
Friday Feb. 8th
9AM, Aspen Youth Festival, 1/2/3k races, AVSC trails
5:30Pm, Owl Creek Chase wax clinic, Aspen Cross Country Center
Saturday Feb. 9th
8AM, RMN Junior Tryout Series, 3/5/10k skate races, Aspen Cross Country Center
9AM, Owl Creek Chase SuperTour 25k, Snowmass Cross Country Center
10AM, Owl Creek Chase 15k, RMN Jr. Tryout 15k, Bappa Tour 15k, 2Creeks base area
11:30-3, Owl Creek Chase after party, Schlomo’s on the Green
Sunday Feb. 10th
10AM, Skate with the Pros free clinic, Aspen Cross Country Center
Registration and event information
– teamavsc.com for event information on Aspen Valley Ski Club hosted events
– utemountaineer.com for Owl Creek Chase and Bappa Tour information, pre-registration in person at The Ute Mountaineer until Friday at 5PM or race day at the Snowmass Cross Country Center. Entry fee includes an Icebreaker Merino wool base layer valued at over $70 for the first 250 participants.
Club, The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office
Johnny Spillane, US Ski Team
Lars Flora, Salomon Factory Team
Andrey Golovko, Salomon Factory Team
Zack Simons, Team Rossignol
Zach Violett, Fischer/Craft
Brayton Osgood, Fischer/Craft
Andrew Johnson, Fischer/Craft
Noah Hoffman, AVSC/SVSEF
Casey Ward, Alpina/Madshus
Pierre Wille, Aspen
Kristina Strandberg, Salomon Factory Team
Evelyn Dong, Salomon Factory Team
Sarah Konrad, Madshus Racing
Karin Camenisch, Team Rossignol
Martina Stursova, Team Rossignol
Nicole DeYoung, Fischer/Craft
Natalie Ward, Alpina/Madshus