Skiers, snowboarders take on Talons Challenge at Beaver Creek |

Skiers, snowboarders take on Talons Challenge at Beaver Creek

Zander Burnett, 7, tackles the Osprey double black diamond bump run during his first Talons Challenge competition in Beaver Creek on Saturday. About 1,200 participants were challenged to complete 14 runs totalling over 26,000 vertical feet of black diamond and double black diamond skiing in one ski day.
Townsend Bessent | |

Talons challenge

Birds of Prey




Golden Eagle

Grouse Mountain

Bald Eagle

Falcon Park


Ruffed Grouse


Raven Ridge

Screech Owl



Shooting Star


BEAVER CREEK — Fourteen black and double black diamond runs, over 26,000 vertical feet and a whole lot of moguls make up the Talons Challenge.

On Saturday, 1,200 skiers and snowboarders came to Beaver Creek for the 13th annual event, featuring trails off Birds of Prey, Grouse Mountain and Larkspur chairlifts, including the World Cup downhill course.

“We look forward to it every year. This year, I tried to train for it,” said Kate Herrin, of Denver, who was taking on the Talons Challenge for her sixth year in a row with her brothers. “None of it worked.”

Matt Willis, of Chicago, has been skiing on the most advanced runs at Beaver Creek with Herrin along the way. He said he doesn’t do any training.

“We look forward to it every year. This year, I tried to train for it. None of it worked.”Kate HerrinDenver

“I can’t feel my quads,” he said more than halfway through the challenge.

‘Everybody’s doing great’

Josh Fell and Eric Lehman, of Denver, were well on their way Saturday morning, looking to complete the Talons Challenge for the second consecutive year.

“We just knocked out Golden Eagle,” Fell said. “It’s not as icy as it was last year, so that’s awesome.”

Loren Burnett made a family ski day out of it.

He was out with his wife, Richelle, and daughters Cielle, 11, and Debi, 9, who are seasoned Talons Challenge skiers. His son Zander, 7, was working his way down Osprey, a double black diamond full of moguls off of Grouse Mountain, on his first attempt at the challenge on Saturday.

“Everybody’s doing great,” Loren said. “It’s such a great family event and it’s such a big confidence builder.”

First timers Jason Payne and Brian Hunt planned their trip from Houston to Beaver Creek around the Talons Challenge.

“We took off Friday from work, flew up, and then we’re probably not going to ski after this,” Payne said.

With terrain tough enough to test even the most experienced skiers, there should be bonus points for doing it on a snowboard.

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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