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Drambuie Open good for laughs, bruises

Drambuie1 3-29 CS Vail Daily/Coreen Sapp Chris Del Bosco airs it out as he crosses the finish line during the 2004 Drambuie Open snowbike race Monday afternoon at Golden Peak.
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The 2004 Drambuie Open at Golden Peak Monday had the perfect recipe for fun.

First, add 50 fun-loving fools willing to hurl their bodies down a slope.

Then, add skis, snowboards, snowbikes and saucers.

Finally, season with a $2,000 purse for the top-three finishers and serve with an after-party full of swag and drink specials.

What you end up with is a day-long triathlon full of fast skiing, huge crashes and plenty of smiles.

“I’d say this is the funnest event,” Chris Ward said after crossing the finish line of the saucercross to complete Monday’s triathlon. “It’s better than the U.S. (Freesking) Open. This is definitely more fun. They take care of you here with lunch, and of course with the swag. Plus, you get to keep your saucer. You can’t beat that deal.”

The schedule for Monday’s triathlon started off with a giant slalom race, in which competitors could either ski or snowboard. Racers then took their turns riding a snowbike down the Golden Peak course, trying to maneuver through turns while staying upright – a feat that wasn’t easily accomplished.

Some racers made it to the bottom of the course unscathed, but a number of snowbikers made friends with the soft, slushy snow on the track, or with the race banners lining the course after they flew off the speeding bikes. One racer even bloodied himself after completing a don’t-try-this-at-home wreck at the bottom of the hill.

The last competition of the day was the vaunted saucercross, a race more fit for five-year-olds than for 25-year-olds. Crossers surfed down a bermed course on a saucer, either on their chests or on their bottoms, all while trying to make it to the finish line in one piece.

“Low-skill events are my forte,” Adam Baker said after ripping off a time of 20.20 seconds in the saucercross. “I got smoked in the skiing and smoked in the biking. I’m an Olympic saucercrosser.”

Monday’s field of competitors was full of people like Baker, a local who had just come out to have fun in the sun. While there were a number of world class athletes such as local skiing god Chris Anthony, a staple of Warren Miller films for the last 15 years, and Sean Clark, a former U.S. Ski Team member, there were also plenty of Joe Schmoes.

The only requirement for registration was that you had to be 21 years or older. After that, it didn’t matter if you snowboarded or skied, if you were a guy or a girl, or if you knew that Drambuie is a liqueur made from Scotch whiskeys and heather honey that is best served on ice.

As long as you were OK with few bruises – nothing a few glasses of Drambuie wouldn’t take care of – you were in.

“I had a little bit of a lead going in, but I blew it,” said Clark after losing precious time on the saucercross. “It is competitive, but it’s also completely unpredictable. You have no control (in the saucercross). I mean you do, but not really. I have a little advantage because I have the racing background, but apparently my saucer skills are not up to par.”

Anthony was all smiles after closing out the days events, being the last competitor to drop in on the treacherous saucercross course.

“You definitely rode when you were a little kid. I don’t think you had any control then, and you definitely don’t have any control now,” Anthony said. “We were getting more into the dark the further along we got into the events. The skiing, everybody can do that. Then all of the sudden we’re on these bikes with skis on them, and I’ve never done that. That was cool.

“Then, the saucer. I was up there studying the course, seeing where it was fastest, seeing which parts were slick. And, all it came down to was luck.”

The final results of Monday’s race were not available at time of press. Check back in Wednesday’s paper for a complete listing.

Nate Peterson is at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via e-mail at npeterson@vaildaily.com


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