Lunar Cup: Not Your Everyday Ski Race

Lunar Cup: Not Your Everyday Ski Race

By J James McTigue


In Rome they’d throw people in a ring with a lion for entertainment; in Telluride we have The Lunar Cup. It’s an event that shouldn’t really be watched—it’s frightening and a little disturbing, yet at the same time, extremely difficult not to watch.

Lunar Cup has a little of everything—free-riders throwing back flips, skiers and boarders racing down a snow-covered scree-field, and even a little nudity. Former event organizer and current announcer, Herb Manning summed up the highlight of this year’s Lunar Cup saying, “Everyone came out fairly unscathed.”

So, what is Lunar Cup exactly?

IMG_1236 If nothing else, Lunar Cup is a spectacle. The event has had many lives and resurrections, most currently showing itself in the form of a local, summer, ski celebration with a loosely interpreted version of a dual giant slalom race at its core. It takes place above Savage Basin, well above 12,000 feet, on a steep snowfield below the summit of Imogene Pass.

The participants hike to the top of a pretty intimidating race course dressed in tutus, lingerie and other creative ensembles (or in nothing in some unfortunate cases), then race, or in many cases simply ‘make it’, to the finish.

“What’s it about?” current event organizer Roby Peabody repeated when I asked him, “it’s about ski bums doing something fun in the summer. It’s a good time and it has good community spirit. For the next five or eight days there will be a lot of people with huge grins on their faces.”

On Saturday, the grinning began. The free-ride youth were out in force, entertaining onlookers with flips and spins off a homemade kicker stage left. The race was center stage then skiers and boarders hiked above the race start to hop off the top cornice and descend a steeper pitch.

There were also those who ran, hiked or biked the eight miles, and two thousand plus vertical feet, to watch the events and enjoy a cold beverage.

IMG_1230 At the end of the day, when the times were tallied, the winning alpine team was Old School Meets New School consisting of Gregory Hope, Zach Templin, Matt Kuzmich and Page McCargo — a three-peat for Templin and Kuzmich. 

The Same Name as Last Year won bragging rights for the fastest snowboard team made up of Simon Collins, Gabe Wright, Rusty Scott and Jaynee  Kronk. And, the Style Trophy went to Lane Smith for his “naked back flip, one-ski landing” according to Roby.

“Hot girls were coming out of the woodwork,” Manning added. “Everyone looked fabulous and the colors looked great.”

And thankfully, unlike the gladiators of Roman times, all the participants survived the event  (barely in some cases) and can look forward to next year. 


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