Stowe, Vermont will host the 70th Annual Stowe Derby on February 22. Begun in 1945 as a challenge between two renowned local skiers, the derby has grown into a major event with more than 900 participants ranging from families and purely recreational skiers to top Canadian ski team members and NCAA champions. The race begins at the summit of the Toll Road on Mt. Mansfield and ends 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles, away in the village of Stowe. Skiers descend the length of the Toll Road then follow the Stowe Recreation Path into town, a vertical drop of more than 2600 feet.
The Long Course, for skiers 14 and older, has two categories – one for skate or freestyle skiers and one for classical, where no skating is allowed at all. It starts at the top of the Toll Road, is downhill for about 4 miles then meeting up with the resorts cross country trails and those of the Trapp Family Lodge. The final portion is a flat 5 mile run on the Stowe Recreation Path ending in the village of Stowe. The big catch to all this –
racers are allowed only one pair of skis for the entire race. They must compete in the downhill and cross country portions on the same skis!
The top competitors will finish the course in about 45 minutes while recreational skiers may take two hours or more.
The Short Course, for kids 5 to 13 and families, is 6 kilometers and is run over the last part of the other divisions on the Recreation Path.
For a real test of endurance, and truly for experts only, there is the Derby Meister. Contestants race the skate and the classical races back to back, a total of 40 kilometers.
The race is run today the same as it was 70 years ago from the top of Vermont’s highest peak into the picturesque and historic village of Stowe. Many consider it to be the ultimate test of a skier’s ability.