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Double-diamond determination

Veronica Whitney
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyThe Talons is challenging.
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BEAVER CREEK – If you had to ski 13 of the most difficult runs -about 23,000 vertical feet – what could be better than starting in more nine inches of the fluffiest powder?And what about following Warren Miller film star Chris Anthony down Grouse Mountain?That’s what those participating in the Beaver Creek Talons Fest – a four-day event that started Wednesday and ends today – encountered Thursday.Among them was Ray Kosak who was anxiously waiting for Chris Anthony Thursday morning to head up Grouse Mountain to begin the 13 diamond and double-diamond runs that make up the Talons Challenge. To complete the challenge, skiers and snowboarders must do all the steep and bumpy runs in one day. “It couldn’t be a better day with the sun out and lots of snow,” said Kosak, 42, of Eagle. “I have done them all before, but not in one day.”John Perkins, 58, of Edwards, wasn’t so sure he was going to keep up with Anthony.”I’ve also done them all before, but not all in one day,” Perkins said. “I’ve got to see. I’m not sure I can, but I’ll give it my best shot. I think it’s easier with the powder.”The runs to complete the Talons are in the Birds of Prey area, Grouse Mountain and Larkspur Bowl. The runs are: Goshawk, Peregrine, Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Falcon Park, Osprey, Screech Owl, Ptarmigan, Raven Ridge, Ruffed Grouse, Loco, S-Star and Lupine.

“It doesn’t get better than this,” said Mike Slife, 20, of Cleveland, Ohio, “I don’t know if I can make 13. I’ll try my best. I don’t know what it entails. But whatever it takes, I’ll do it.”Those finishing the Talons in one day get their name put in a plaque hanging in one of the walls at the Red Tail Camp restaurant.”You definitely have to pace yourself,” said Anthony, 37, who has competed in eight World Extreme Championships and has been skiing for the Warren Miller team for the last 16 years. “Even if you’re in good shape. You can’t go too fast, too hard, too early. It’ s a lot of runs,” said Anthony, who lives in Avon.Making a scheduleIt can take a skier or snowboarder from three to five hours to complete the Talons, said Vassil Djambazob, a ski instructor with the Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard School, who has helped many people complete the challenge.”Many people have completed it, some take two or three days to do it,” Djambazob said. “The best way is to make a schedule of the runs, so you have a chance to rest a little bit.”For example, after Peregrine I would suggest to do one of the Larkspur Bowl runs and then one in Grouse Mountain and then maybe go to Larkspur again,” he added. “So you have a chance to rest for a while. If you do all runs in Grouse Mountain non-stop, you’ll get tired.”

But by 2 p.m. Thursday, and after nine non-stop runs, Kosak said he was feeling great.”It’s been really exciting, we got to do some film shooting with Chris Anthony and it was awesome, the snow is perfect – just loving it,” Kosak said. “I recommend that people start early when their legs are strong,” he added. “Do some of the tough ones earlier. And then I also recommend doing it on a powder day like today because Grouse Mountain, when the bumps are really big, Volkswagen size, can really wear you down quick.”And Slife didn’t give up either, even though he struggled some with the change of altitude from Ohio to the Vail Valley – about an 8,000 feet difference.”I worked out as much as I could before coming to Vail. I knew I was going to ski hard so I tried to get as prepared as I could,” he said. “I’m going to finish.”Kosak and Slife finish the Talons about 3 p.m., skiing their last run with Anthony. And along with the dozens of others who completed the Talons Thursday, Kosak and Slife got a string with the Talons Club logo, a pin and a baseball cap. Because they finished in one day, their names will be put on the Red Tail plaque.”It’s a good accomplishment,” Slife said. “I can compare it to one of my first ski races when I was a kid.”



Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 454, or vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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