Thunderbolt Ski Race a Go For Saturday

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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'Thunder' weekend is a go with enough snow to put on the famed Thunderbolt Ski Race, a second back-country race and the popular ThunderFest.

ADAMS, Mass. — After two years' absence, the Thunderbolt Ski Race returns with proper snow conditions and a new longer race this weekend.

After the race down Mount Greylock on Saturday, March 1, skiers will have the opportunity to compete in a Rando ski race on the Thunderbolt Trail on Sunday, March 2.

The weekend also includes a talk on the famed 10th Mountain Division at the Adams Visitors Center on Friday night and the popular ThunderFest at the center on Saturday afternoon.

"If you are doing the full course you will be looking at a 3 1/2 race for some skiers," Josh Chittenden, trail crew coordinator, said of the Rando. "Mount Greylock is a great venue for this kind of race because in its purest form it's a back-country type trail."

There will be two different categories of the long-distance ski race.

"The full course will be roughly 5,700 vertical feet of climbing, which is roughly three laps up and down the Thunderbolt Ski Trail," Chittenden said. "This is the first time there has been a Rando race on Mount Greylock and, hopefully, we will be able to grow with it."

The Rando race starts at 9 a.m. from Gould and Thiel roads.

The Thunderbolt Ski Runners formed nearly six years ago to bring the historic race back to the mountain. But it's struggled because of the lack of the one thing it needs most: snow.

The first race in 2010 hit some delays but the next year went off without a hitch thanks to some record snow. But Mother Nature refused to cooperate in 2012 and 2013 and the race, although not Thunderfest, were canceled.

Earlier this month, Ski Runner Paul Chojnowski described scheduling the event as putting "all our eggs in the basket for March 1."

Chittenden is confident that this year's race will be held.

"The snow up on the mountain is the same that is in our back yards, and I'd say its bullet proof at this point," he said. "I did have a racer come off the mountain today and he said that he was able to ski top to bottom without stopping."

The Ski Runners are organizing a trail day on Friday and are asking for people with snowshoes or skies to help break up the snow and create a better race course.

Thunderbolt participants will meet Saturday at the race headquarters, which is situated just before Gould Farm on the left-hand side of the road.

From there, racers will ascend the three-mile Superhighway Trail between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. When they reach the summit, their ascension time will be marked and they will begin the descent.

Afterward, racers and others can attend Thunderfest, which runs from noon to 5. There will be food, beer vendors, a chowder cookoff and live music. The award ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. Awards will be given out for overall time, as well as fastest ascenders and descenders.

A dinner will be held at the PNA on Saturday night for racers, their families and volunteers where more awards will be given out. The dinner will be catered by the Old Forge of Lanesborough.

For the first time, a shuttle will be provided to bring spectators to view the race. The shuttle will leave from the Visitors Center and provide rides up and down the mountain between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

On Friday night, the Visitors Center's Thunderbolt Ski Museum will host a talk and book-signing with Charlie Sanders, author of "Boys of Winter" about the 10th Mountain Division in World War II.

Tags: Thunderbolt,   Thunderfest,   

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