The History of the Snowshoe Shuffle |

The History of the Snowshoe Shuffle

Vail Alive Staff report

Snowshoe racing is a sport that’s taking off. Once just an awkward form of foot transportation for getting around in the deep snows of winter, new technology has turned snowshoeing into a fast and exciting racing spectacle. In no snowshoe event is that excitement more evident than in the Snowshoe ShuffleT.

Now in its tenth year, the Snowshoe Shuffle attracts the largest number of participants of any snowshoe event in the United States, and maybe even the world. The Shuffle is comprised of 10-k and 5-k races and un-timed 5-k and 1-mile fun events. Always a mountaintop event, the Shuffle takes participants to over 2 miles above sea-level high in the Colorado Rockies for an exhilarating experience that is as appealing to the eyes as it is taxing on the lungs.

The first Snowshoe Shuffle took place in the McCoy Park portion of the Beaver Creek Ski Area in 1994 with only 175 participants. By 1998, the Shuffle crested the 1,000 participant mark, growing nearly six-fold in just five short years. Clearly, the Shuffle struck a chord with the athletic community of Colorado, drawing participants even from 14 other states and Canada. The Shuffle now takes place on the top of Vail Mountain, a venue more capable of handling the logistics of the large crowds.

But, the Snowshoe Shuffle is about more than just a contest of who could go faster and farther on a pair of snowshoes. The event was begun by volunteers from the Vail Valley Medical Center and the surrounding community as a fundraiser for cancer prevention, education and early detection programs in Eagle County. In its history, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for this cause, using the money for free mammograms, breast exam shower cards, free health fairs, breast cancer screenings and to fund the Educational Resource Center at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards, CO. The appeal of aiding a cause dedicated to helping women with cancer and preventing future cases still draws most of the Shuffle’s participants. Even the fastest racers can be seen wearing the pink dedication bibs naming the cancer survivor or victim that their efforts are in honor of.

Besides the event’s great cause, it is also an exciting spectacle for the senses, from the smell of pines in the crisp Spring air, to the snap of the snowshoes as they sprint past, and finally to the sight of the rooster-tails of snow that spring up behind the racers. Snowshoe racing has taken off as a sport because of the user-friendly equipment, the ease of learning the sport, the amazing workout it offers and the wonderful places to enjoy it. .And at the forefront of this revolution is the Snowshoe Shuffle, the biggest and most important snowshoe event of them all.

Support Local Journalism