Snowshoe racers descend on Meadow Mountain | VailDaily.com

Snowshoe racers descend on Meadow Mountain

Ryan Slabaugh

Nobody had an answer for him, other than, “I think so.” Snowshoe racing, still in its infant stages today, had barely been conceived in 1995.

Just this season, the first U.S. National Team raced in the World Championships, so, back then, boasting of a state championships in snowshoe racing might have earned as much attention as a flea on a dinosaur.

“There wasn’t, and there still isn’t, an official organization. Nobody’s ever challenged us,” Kelly said. “But it’s still listed in, I guess, all the publications that matter. Rocky Mountain Sports. Denver Post. Runner’s World. It’s pretty much become known to everyone that we have the state championships.”

Even the women’s defending champion, Anita Ortiz of Eagle, wasn’t sure what it means to be the state champion.

“The whole thing is confusing,” Ortiz said.

The event, despite its name, doesn’t have any extra incentive to the racers, other than bragging rights. Pedal Power still handles the awards and prizes, but Ortiz, along with defending men’s state champion Josiah Middaugh of Vail, will be racing in this year’s championship anyway. Middaugh and Ortiz won Saturday’s Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series race, a week after returning from the Snowshoe World Championships in Italy.

Saturday at Meadow Mountain, near the Forest Service parking lot in Minturn, the Pedal Power series holds the third event of its series, a nine-miler hosted by Pazzo’s that will crown the state’s best snowshoe runners.

The championships will take the state’s best through untracked snow and a set of rolling hills, with some singletrack and bushwacking involved, says Judy Freeman, one of the organizers.

“The course is going to change a little bit from last year,” Freeman said, “but not dramatically so.”

The race, Kelly added, is not for those treading on snowshoes for the first time. The course finishes with a mile of technical downhill running, a challenge to the best of the field of 80-90 racers.

“That’s a pretty good number, considering how tough this race is,” Kelly said. “We won’t change the course, because it attracts the rather serious snowshoe racers.”

Racers need to meet at Meadow Mountain before the 10 a.m. start, and can register for the event for $15 at Pedal Power Bicycle Shop in Eagle Vail, or by calling 845-0931. Participants may also register on the day of the event at the race start.

The final event in the Pedal Power series, The Ptarmigan Sports/Atlas Vail Mountain Ascent, is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608, or at rslabaugh@vaildaily.com.