The Stowe Derby is one of the oldest and most unique ski races in North America. It started in 1945 as a personal bet between two amazing skiers: Sepp Ruschp, an Austrian, and the head of Stowe’s new ski school, and Erling Strom, a world famous mountaineer from Norway. Their challenge was simple: a race from the top of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, to the historic village of Stowe, on a single pair of skis. The ultimate test of a skier’s all-around ability. At the time, Ruschp believed that his alpine skis were the fastest tools for the job, whereas Strom argued nordic skis would be the better choice. After much debate, the two decided to race. Sepp Ruschp, on alpine gear, was the winner of the first two Stowe Derbies.
Today, modern nordic skis are the equipment of choice, and the race attracts competitors, ranging from National Ski Team members and NCAA Champions, to recreational skiers looking for a thrill. As of 2019, the Stowe Derby now also includes a Fatbike Race through Stowe’s snow covered trails. While the Stowe Derby can be very competitive for some, it is also fun. The Long Course requires participants to ski approximately 20 km of challenging terrain, racing down Mt. Mansfield’s Toll Road and along the Stowe Rec Path before reaching the finish in Stowe Village. The Course has a total vertical drop of almost 2,700 feet. The winners will complete the course in about 43 minutes, while recreational skiers can take a couple of hours. The Fatbike Course is for the rugged riders that are looking for a fun way to burn some rubber this winter. The challenge begins at the base of Toll Road and continues into the village of Stowe, approximately 16km of fun! The Derby Short Course is designed for children ages 6 and up or those who prefer to avoid the rigors of a long and sustained descent. This portion of the race attracts around about 100 competitors. The 6 km course begins in a mass start near the Stowe Recreation Path Parking Lot at and follows the final leg of the Long Course.