Gear up for the 1st annual 7 Hours of the Banana this weekend

“You can do three runs and call it good, or you could do 20”

It’s on, people: The 7 Hours of the Banana is this Saturday, February 27.
The event joins a long list of classic local fundraising events, and could soon eclipse them as skiers and snowboarders have the chance to ride down the Banana as many times as possible in seven hours.
Pre-registration for 7 Hours of the Banana and the Tropical Obstacle is required by Friday, February 26, 2010 (no day-of registration), and may be done by visiting or calling the Crested Butte Ski Club at (970) 275-2554. Entry is $35 per person; $70 includes a lift ticket. Kids pay their age. Last chance registration is Friday, February 26 at the Brick Oven Pizzeria from 4 to 7 p.m. Pledge forms are available online, and individuals may pledge participants through a “Donate Now” link on the ASC’s homepage.
The Banana is the prominent avalanche chute that sits on the west side of Crested Butte Mountain and greets all skiers and snowboarders as they make their way up Gothic Road to the base area.
It’s a classic run first opened in the early ’90s to the general public.
Retired ski patroller Johnny Biggers was part of a team that worked diligently to pull the terrain into the fold of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
Since then Biggers considered an event that could possibly showcase the classic ski run.
“It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time,” says Biggers. “I’ve always enjoyed skiing on that side. It’s an impressive avalanche chute. I thought it would be good for the lift-served skiers and boarders.”
Last October, the idea came to fruition when Biggers approached both the Adaptive Sports Center and the Crested Butte Ski Club to see if they were interested in an event to raise money for them.
They jumped at the chance and took it from there, ultimately creating the 7 Hours of the Banana.
Though the event was initially scheduled for January, conditions forced the postponement to February 27 and now conditions are as good as they get.
“It’s actually been skiing really well,” says Biggers. And that was before the recent snow this past weekend.
The race kicks off at 8:50 a.m. with a Le Mans-style start with participants running up to their equipment, alpine skis, telemark skis or snowboards, and heading to the Silver Queen lift to load for their first of several rides to the top.
Once off the Silver Queen, participants take the low traverse out to the Flatiron area and must enter the Banana through the gate. Follow that down through the Hockey Rink and exit out a groomed cat track back to the front side to check in at the start/finish area, get your lap counted and then load the Silver Queen again.
Participants can do it solo or as part of a team and can do as many, or as few, laps as they want until 4 p.m.
“You can do three runs and call it good, or you could do 20,” says Biggers.
Biggers estimates that the stronger skiers and snowboarders who carry through from start to finish could get more than 20 laps in, at 2,080 feet per lap, before the day is over.
“It’ll depend on conditions,” says Biggers.
Local lift-served endurance all-star Dead Head Ed Boardman has finished all 20 A-Basin Enduro races he’s entered and will be participating in the 7 Hours of the Banana. He has some insight into the realm of lift-served endurance skiing.
“Any expert skier on this mountain can do it physically, but it’s mental,” says Boardman. “You have to have mental strength to want to keep going, and ibuprofen.”
That said, Boardman warns newcomers to watch their pace.
“What usually happens is first thing in the morning you’re pumped and go too fast,” says Boardman. “You want a good steady pace.”
The names of the men’s and women’s winners from each category will be placed on a trophy handmade by Blackstar Ironworks.
There will also be an event for families and kids not looking to ski the Banana, the Tropical Obstacle. This just-for-fun challenge/obstacle ski course will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Buckley (accessed from the WestWall lift). Children and families will enjoy navigating rollers, ski gates, banked turns, and more on the Tropical Obstacle. Participants are encouraged to collect pledges and complete laps on the course. No timing equipment will be used; this is the fun division (don a tropical-themed costume!).
All proceeds from the 7 Hours of the Banana will benefit the Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) and the Crested Butte Ski Club (CBSC).

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