Races, Ballet and Project Runway in Vail | Tricia's Top Weekend Picks | VailDaily.com

From the Blue Sky Cup to BalletX, a ski demo day to Project Funway, your weekend plans are here

Test yourself with outdoor races and challenges

We are halfway through winter, so maybe it's time to test your mettle out in the elements. This weekend's events offer a few different ways to push yourself to go a little bit farther for a little bit longer with the Blue Sky Cup, the Beaver Creek Running Series: Snowshoe Edition and the Vail Derail Winter Bike Race.

In its eighth year, the Blue Sky Cup raises money for the Arthritis National Research Foundation and challenges teams to ski 40,000 vertical feet or more in one day. The event was created by Jim Nollsch and Hayden Fisher from Denver. They used it first as a personal challenge on Fisher’s 40th birthday but it soon became a benefit in honor of Nollsch, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 25.9 percent of the adult U.S. population will be diagnosed with arthritis by 2040. "This is a cause that likely impacts someone you know, so help us fund cutting-edge treatments by joining us for a day of fun and fundraising," Fisher said.

The Blue Sky Cup prompts costumed crusaders to come out each year and raise money. The event is being held today with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Antlers in Lionhead. Can't make it for the ski day? Stop by the after-party at the Antlers and support the cause by buying ball caps, beanies, and t-shirts with Blue Sky Cup logos as well as raffle prize tickets for a vacation from Inspirato. For more information, visit http://www.blueskycup.ski.

If snowshoeing is more your thing, take part in the Beaver Creek Running Series: Snowshoe Edition. You don't have to run in snowshoes, you can easily stroll while enjoying the scenery of Beaver Creek. It's just another way to get outside and do something different. The event on Sunday starts with registration from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. outside of Beaver Creek Sports. You can save a little money by registering in advance. Please note that day-of registration increases by $15.

The races begin at 10 a.m. sharp for both the 5k and 10k runners. Awards will be given to the top male and female in each age bracket for the 5k and 10k races, as well as the top overall male and female competitor for the 5k and 10k races. All athletes will be entered into the raffle at the post party where you will also receive a post race meal. This race is part two of a three part series. The next one will be held on March 3. To register go to http://www.beavercreek.com/snowshoeseries.

For the bikers out there, check out the Vail Derail Winter Bike Race put on by the Vail Recreation District. The race will test your winter bike handling skills on a circuit race course starting at the Vail Nordic Center on Saturday at 4 p.m. followed by a free dinner from the Grill on the Gore and free beer from Vail Brewing Company for the racers. Fat bikes are recommended but not required. Inquire about demoing a fat bike and know that the proceeds from the bike demos will go to the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association. Course distances range from about three miles for youth to approximately six miles for beginner and sport riders and around 12 miles for the pro and open categories. Learn more at http://www.vailrec.com/register.

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Ski Demo Day for women at Vail

It doesn't get any easier to demo skis than to have several makes and models slopeside at the base of Lionshead for you to try all in one day – for free. It's all part of the Skadi Second Saturday ski demo days for women brought to you by Outdoor Divas, Vail Sports and the Vail Ski and Snowsports School.

Here's how it works: simply show up wearing your own ski boots and bring your poles. Talk to the professionals from Outdoor Divas and Vail Sports about the terrain you typically ski on and they will help you pick a few pairs of skis you should try. You can even take a run or two with ski instructors from the Vail Ski and Snowsports School who will advise you about the skis you are trying.

"Technology changes so quickly and if you used to ski on skis that were a certain length, often you can ski a newer model in a shorter length and still have the stability and performance you are looking for. Or if you are trying a ski with a rocker tip and tail you might go a bit longer," said Inge Franberg, product manager of the adult signature programs at the Vail Ski and Snowsports School. "It's also so interesting and useful to demo different skis one after another to really be able to compare."

This is the third month of this collaboration to help get women out on the right equipment. Skadi is the Norse goddess of skiing and winter so Vail Mountain has named this season-long series of events for women after her.

The demo will be open from 9:00 a.m. with the last pair of demo skis going out at 2:00 p.m. so they can be returned 3:00 p.m. If you can't make this one, the next and last demo day of the season will be on March 9. For more information, check out http://www.outdoordivas.com.

BalletX World Premier

The "New York Times" has named BalletX's dancers "among America's best," and "The Boston Globe" has included the company in the "top 10 of the year in dance." Find out why this Saturday night at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

Even if you don't follow dance, you may have heard of BalletX because they have performed at the Vail Dance Festival six times since 2012. In a collaboration between the Vail Dance Festival and the Vilar Performing Arts Center, BalletX will perform a world premiere, "Steep Drop, Euphoric" by choreographer Nicolo Fonte which will be set to symphony music by Ezio Bosso and Olafur Arnalds. Fonte is known throughout the world for his daring and original approach to dance.

A post-performance dinner with Nicolo Fonte, Christine Cox and the BalletX cast will be hosted in the May Gallery. A limited number of tickets are available for $150. The price includes both the performance and dinner. There is also special pricing for students with tickets at $25 each and $69 for adults. Purchase tickets by calling the VPAC box office 970-845-8497 or visit http://www.vilarpac.org.

Project Funway

End your Saturday at Project Funway, a creative fundraiser that asks amateur designers to come up with clever outfits made out of anything but fabric and judged by expert judges.

Dobson Arena turns into a New York Fashion Week-worthy setting with models of all ages strutting their stuff to gain the attention of the celebrity judges. This year, Mondo Guerra, Project Runway Season 8 Finalist and Season 1 All Stars winner, returns in a coveted judging role and he'll be handing out his Best in Show selection.

The crowd cheers, oohs, and ahs over the creativity that comes down the runway. Outfits made out of paper plates and plastic utensils, coffee filters, even a dress made out of tangerines and kale somehow managed to stroll down the runway without falling apart.

Get there at 6 p.m. for the buffet and drinks and a wide array of silent auction items, then take your seat and watch the artistry and ingenuity unfold.

The event is fun but the cause is serious. All proceeds from the evening support the Education Foundation of Eagle County and this year, the funds raised will go toward getting a school therapist in each school to support children's mental health. For tickets visit http://www.projectfunway.org.

Harry Potter fun at the Vail Public Library

Can you believe that Harry Potter is 20 years old? Well, maybe not Harry, but the book series by J. K. Rowling is two decades old this year. In honor of Harry Potter Book Night, the Vail Public Library is hosting an amazing evening of wizardry, themed arts and crafts and a little Harry Potter trivia.

The Vail Public Library will convert into something straight out of the book series with wand making at Olivander's Wands, slime making at the apothecary and a bean tasting guessing game at Honeyduke's.

There will be so many arts and crafts for kids to partake in and they are also encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from the Harry Potter series. This free event is tonight and runs from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, contact Cricket Pylman, the head of children's programming at the Vail Public Library, at 970-479-2179 or at cpylman@vailgov.com. Free parking is available after 3 p.m. the Vail Public Library is a short walk from the Lionshead parking garage and is also on the town of Vail bus route across from Dobson Arena.