Crested Butte Alley Loop-Biggest Nordic Costume Party

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 12, 2010 5:23 pm

Affectionately known as the “last great ski town”, Crested Butte CO, eagerly holds on to its many eccentric traditions, including the town’s annual Alley Loop Nordic race, an American Birkebeiner qualifying race and Colorado Cup Series Race. The course reflects its namesake with a corduroy track that winds through the streets, snow-lined alleys, footbridges and hilly outskirts of Crested Butte. Although the town has a number of Nordic races throughout the winter months, The Alley Loop is the local’s biggest excuse to don a costume. Residents here wiggle into tutus and brightly colored wigs at the drop of a hat, making The Alley Loop  the Butte’s most well-attended winter costume party. With course lengths of 1.5K, 3K, 5K, 10K, 21K and 42K there’s plenty of options for the avid Nordorks or the laissez faire beer enthusiast. 

In its 24th year (with a record 502 participants), last Saturday was no exception. Racers and the be-costumed exhibitionists skied through a hearty veil of snow in all things that glimmer and shine: fairies, Indians, monsters, dead presidents, disco kings and queens, political impresarios and their ilk left trails of sequin and boa feathers along the windy course. Spectators flanked the circuit, sipping warm beverages and delivering any number of cat calls – you’ve never heard so much cowbell.

The weather and masses made it difficult for those looking to qualify, with many racers seeing dips in their PR’s. Nordic All-American Sylvan Ellefson took first in the Men’s 42k with a time of 2:16, two minutes ahead of second placer and former USA team biathlete Michael Brothers. Colorado Nordic minx Lenka Palanova smoked the Women’s 42K with a full ten minute front (2:37) on Diana Finkel, the Hardrock 100 winner and renowned endurance racer.  

The town closed down main street Elk Avenue for the day as racers made laps while feisty announcers and a New Belgium beer garden kept morale high in the chilly temps. Tipsy racers, still in their getups, mingled until sundown when everyone moved to local pub Maxwell’s for the long, beer-soaked after party. Check out for more photos and complete results.