They’re professionals, but extreme skiers on the weekends

Posted: March 25, 2014 by kirisyko in Skiing, Winter
Tags: ,

Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Skiers participating in the 3rd Annual Bromley Rando Race use climbing skins to ascend to the peak of the mountain and then descend over the course of multiple laps on Sunday.
ando Racers don’t always ski down black diamonds, but when they do, it’s after skinning their way from the base to the summit.

That was the case on Sunday at Bromley Mountain Ski Resort in southern Vermont, where 20 racers from across the Northeast took to the mountain to participate in the fourth and final event of the New England Rando Race Series.

Skinning is an uphill winter sport that looks like extreme cross-country skiing. Athletes use a special lightweight ski and attach adhesive skins to the bottom that allow them to trek up groomed trails without sliding down. When they reach the top, they remove the skins, adjust a buckle, and ski back down just like traditional alpine skiers.

Organizer Jonathan Shefftz gave athletes a marked course of five laps that totaled 4,150 feet of vertical climbing and a two-hour average workout. Winner Jeremy Arnold finished in one hour and 19 minutes, and had already won the other three races this year.

Administrated by the United States Ski Mountaineering Association, Rando Racing is a competitive way to skin, and it attracts a special niche of winter athletes.

“These guys are definitely go-getters,” said Michael Van Eyck, director of marketing and sales for Bromley Mountain Ski Resort. “They came here with the idea of making (the race) as hard as possible.”

“Some of the guys in the race are absolutely elite-level athletes,” he said. “It’s never been about the revenue. It’s really a grassroots effort.”

“I started (skinning) in Poland 15 years ago,” said Maciek Gluszkowski, 52, of New Jersey. Now, he said, the competitive sport has grown tremendously throughout Europe, especially in alpine countries like Switzerland.

“This sport is growing very fast all over the world, even in the United States,” he added.

Gluszkowski came to Bromley with his wife, Edyta, who usually spends the day downhill skiing while he races. “I think this competition is more for fun,” she said.

Participants were almost all middle-aged professionals who said they were looking for a productive winter workout.

Shefftz, the organizer, is by day an economic consultant, while one woman is an orthopedic surgeon, and another a former World Cup athlete.

“It’s a great way to stay in shape in the winter,” said Randolph Randolph, 46, of New York. “It’s a great way to race in a casual way with a good group.”

This was his third race of the year, and Randolph has been racing for several years. “Bromley is great for alpine touring,” he said.

Katie Vadasdi, 37, of Connecticut, took a day trip up to Vermont with her husband and turned the race into a family day. They both participated in the race and later joined their two young children so they could all alpine ski together.

“This is my first year and my second race. It’s actually a great way to do combined family skiing,” she said. “When I was pregnant, I was skinning up with one on my back and one in my belly.”

Shefftz estimated that there were seven races total in the Northeast this season. He said he has been running the New England Rando Race Series on a volunteer basis since 2008, but he doesn’t expect to add any more next year.

“It’s pretty big out in Colorado and Utah. Here it’s pretty low key,” he said.

“Really what we need is more races,” Shefftz said. “If anyone really wants to step forward and have one I’d be happy to organize it for them.”

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