Tomorrow, one of the highlights of the winter calendar is the annual ritual known as the Stowe Derby. At precisely 10 a.m. competitors will be launched down the Toll Road in waves of five skiers every thirty seconds. No big deal right? Heck Toll Road is easy. Oh yeah just one other detail -- the skiers will be on skinny little cross country skis and the next 10-15 minutes of their lives will be rather challenging. The race begins as a dash down the Toll Road and then once competitors reach the Mansfield Touring Center they begin an additional 13-kilometer journey all the way into the Village of Stowe. The race began in 1945 as a challenge race between two legendary figures in Stowe history -- Sepp Ruschpp the founder of the Stowe Ski School and first president of the resort and Erwin Strom a world famous mountaineer who had a farm in Stowe. Ruschpp, a former national Austrian X-C Champion triumphed easily on his dash to town and a tradition was born.
Now some 60 years later the thrill of the event remains a draw for some of the nation's best X-C skiers. Virtually everyone who lives in Stowe has done the race at least once. A new wrinkle that has been added in recent Derbies is the creation of the Derbymeister category. Derbymeisters do the race to town on skating gear and then return to the top of the Toll Road and do a second race this time on classical skis.