People are flocking to the Stowe Derby, a legendary ski race in Vermont
The Stowe Derby is one of the oldest and most unique skiing events in North America. And this year, they are inviting everyone to beautiful Vermont to help celebrate 75 years on the slopes.
On Feb. 23, 2020, generations of families will once again come together to tackle the challenging 20-km cross-country ski course that winds its way throughout the idyllic mountain town of Stowe.
It’s a chance for Stowe to show off its epic cross-country trail system, which includes more than 3,000 acres of conservation land. Yes, the alpine skiing is huge, but Stowe ranks as one of the top Nordic destinations in Eastern North America.
The Stowe Derby has roots that stretch back to 1945 and a personal challenge between Sepp Ruschp, who was pegged to head up the new ski school at Stowe Mountain Resort, and a Norwegian mountaineer named Erling Strom. They decided to race from the top of Mt. Mansfield to the village of Stowe on a single pair of skis to decide who was the best all-around skier. And the derby was born.
75 years later, the race remains one of the most challenging, exciting, and entertaining cross-country ski races in New England, attracting professional skiers, adventurous newcomers, and families alike.
“It is a fun race!,” says Brooke Mitchell, of the Mount Mansfield Ski Club & Academy, which organizes the event. “One of the most unique aspects of the race is the chairlift ride to the start of the race for the long course. Skiers descend down the famous Toll Road ski trail before entering the cross country trails that weave through a variety of terrain. Traditionally the race ends at the church on Main Street.”
Today, the Stowe Derby long course still sees participants skiing 20 km of challenging terrain down the Toll Road and along the Stowe Recreational Path before reaching the finish in Stowe Village. The Course has a total vertical drop of almost 2,700 feet.
Mitchell says, last year there were 250 participants but in good years the number swells to 600.
“Skiers come from all over the world, and the country,” she adds.
Those who sign on to compete in the event can toe the line alongside members of the U.S. National Ski Team, NCAA champions and a large and jovial group of recreational skiers young and old who have come to know and love the Stowe Derby.
But, the event has grown and expanded to include other events such as a fat bike race, and the Derby Meister as well as a short course designed for children ages six and up.
Fat biking is the latest addition to the popular event, and Mitchell says the club is working with the mountain bike club in Stowe to increase the numbers.
And of course, there are social events along the way including the event after-party where a prize will be awarded to the person wearing the best Derby hat.
Participants can register at the link.