Those 16 days of Olympic glory may be over, but you can still get your own personal moment of glory. In fact, you can hang out with well known racers, even Olympians in a fun atmosphere of apre ski.
Here’s the best part: You can race an easy giant slalom on a genuine Olympic race venue which is normally closed to the public.
We are talking about the Park City Town Race Series. It’s held on the lower part of CB’s, a relatively flat section of the former World Cup and 2002 Olympic giant slalom course at Park City Mountain Resort. There are two races remaining: one on Wednesday, February 26, and the final on Wednesday, March 12.
Last season, Olympic champion Ted ‘Shred’ Ligety showed up to race against the buddies he formerly competed against on his rise to Olympic fame. They all wanted a chance to measure themselves against him. Unfortunately, the snow was so soft that the race was canceled, so Ligety hung around with everyone and handed out the season-ending awards. Everyone is hoping he’ll do the same at this year’s finals.
But he’s not the only big name at this race series. Heidi Voelker, a multi-Olympian and current Ambassador of Skiing at Deer Valley resort, is the official pacesetter, and shows up for every race. She still beats most of the men.
The famous (some say notorious) Skinner brothers, Bobby and Bill, are both coaches of the Park City Masters team, and both also race the Town Series, bringing a crowd of Masters racers with them. If you have any interest in adult ski racing, the Skinner boys will gladly answer any questions, either before the race or at the awards ceremony afterwards.
Also present and participating in every race is Jesse Hunt, former head of the U. S. ski team and current head of the Park City ski team. If you have children who might like to ski race, you couldn’t find a better expert to tell you what you need to know.
The race starts at 3:00 and runs until 6:00 pm. The course is kept immaculately smooth, as groomed as a World Cup course. Many of the course ‘slippers’ are former World Cup volunteers. Even if you can’t show up early, you never have to worry about big ruts. Each race costs $20, and those who are in the top three of their age and gender category each receive one of the coveted Town Race T-shirts and an inscribed beer glass, with a free beer included.
Every racer’s runs are videoed, so if you enter, you’ll get to see what you look like on skis. Video is a better teacher than a private lesson from an instructor.
The awards—and the beer—are given out at the Pig Pen, a bar at the base of PCMR that has great burgers, nachos and fries. Even if you don’t race, the group and the atmosphere is friendly, even jovial. The video of the race is shown, and the crowd of participants laugh, cheer and even jeer. It’s hard to describe how much fun the entire experience can be, especially for out-of-towners who are vacationing in, or even thinking about moving to, Park City.
If you don’t feel like participating in the race, show up for the fun at the Pig Pen around 6:30, when the true ‘after ski’ will again reinforce your love for the sport. But for the full experience, enter the race. Who knows, you may end up going home with the prestigious shirt and your own personal beer glass trophy.