Tackling Beaver Creek’s toughest runs | VailDaily.com

Tackling Beaver Creek’s toughest runs

NWS Talons Moguls DT 1-26

VAIL ” Beyond the escalators, the chocolate-chip cookies and the famed groomers, you might forget that Beaver Creek has some pretty mean terrain.

This weekend’s “Talons Challenge” reminds skiers what Beaver Creek has to offer for bump-lovers, steeps-sliders and gluttons for knee pain.

“A lot of people don’t realize Beaver Creek has the type of terrain that can essentially beat you up,” said Todd James, a ski instructor at Beaver Creek.

The Talons Challenge asks skiers to do 13 black- and double-black-diamond runs ” 23,722 vertical feet ” in one day. The 13 runs are steep, mostly ungroomed mogul runs.

“It’s pretty much an all-day event,” James said ” although he said he’s heard of people finishing it in under three hours.

Saturday and Sunday are the only days during the season when skiers and snowboarders can do the Challenge without an instructor to win prizes and get their names on the “Talons Wall of Fame” at Red Tail Camp. Skiers who finished the challenge get a ball cap, a pin, a lanyard and a raffle ticket.

Chris Lush, his brother, Dan, both of London, and their friend Mike Gear of Boston were doing the Challenge early on Thursday ” for fun, not for prizes. They were skiing the big bumps of Bald Eagle run ” their second run of the 13.

“We just wanted to do it, just for the challenge of it,” Chris Lush said.

He said he hoped that he would be sleeping well that night.

“If we don’t, it’s a problem,” he said.

Dan Lush said he likes the variety of the terrain, from steep runs to more varied pitches.

“So many different types of bumps,” he said.

Paul Kardosh of Chicago was also skiing Bald Eagle. He said the steep terrain offers a new challenge.

“It’s not just making the same turns on groomed terrain,” he said.

Skiers who want to do the Challenge should register at Red Tail Camp over the weekend, where they’ll get a run-tracking card. After each run, they should stop by the tent at Red Tail for a staffer to check off each run.

The Talons Challenge runs are divided between three lifts ” Larkspur, Grouse Mountain and Birds of Prey.

James suggested that skiers start with the steep, longer Birds of Prey runs, including the World Cup Birds of Prey downhill course on Golden Eagle run. He said skiers should then head to the Grouse Mountain runs, which have the biggest bumps, and finish with the shorter Larkspur runs.

The Challenge isn’t for beginners or even intermediates, James said.

“I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not an advanced skier,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or estoner@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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