The legendary ski mountaineering race celebrating the life of a dedicated backcountry enthusiast is back at Eldora Mountain Resort.
PHOTO: Mindy Fowler, who scored 3rd place in the Women’s ski category shows what the DOJoe vibe is all about.
Bedecked in tele-skiing boots, colorful spandex, and flowing wigs, competitors in Eldora Mountain Resort’s DOJoe line up at the base of Bonanza on Eldora’s front side. The start gun goes off, and this colorful rabble of denim-and-neon-clad racers explode out of the start, up Bonanza, across the Jolly Jug flats, up to the Pipeline traverse, over to the top of the Corona Lift, and across and down the steep, mogul-strewn face of West Ridge. The race concludes as this colorful crowd celebrates with music, beer, and pizza back at the base, where awards are handed out, pictures taken, and stories shared.
Eldora’s DOJoe is not your typical ski-mountaineering race. The event commemorates Joe Despres, who, in 2002 was tragically killed in an avalanche. Despres was an avid tele skier, and was a long-time local to the Front Range of Colorado before his death in 2001. Since then, Eldora Mountain Resort and the locals of Nederland have honored his memory by holding the DOJoe, which is more focused on wacky costumes and the love of skiing than competition. The race was originally only open to tele skiers, but changed that rule to allow alpine skiers and split-boarders to partake in this beloved event.
Eldora hosted the DOJoe for several years, but took a brief hiatus from 2014 to 2021, during which time it was held at Arapaho Ranch, situated in the sweeping meadow at the base of Eldora’s access road. Renamed the DOJoe on the Down Low, this iteration of the race remained true to the original race’s colorful heritage. But in 2021, the DOJoe migrated back to Eldora as a virtual-format race. The return of the ini-person race on Sunday, April 10, drew more than 100 participants and raised more than $6,000 for the Friends of Colorado Avalanche Information Center, through a combination of entry fees, beer sales, and direct membership sign-ups at the FoCAIC tent on race day.
“This is a really fun grassroots event with such a positive vibe,” says Sam Bass, Eldora’s head of marketing and former editor of Skiing magazine. “It was really special to be able to bring it back to Eldora in-person after eight years, and so cool that so many of the original participants showed up to race. People really got into the spirit with their costumes, which were impressively creative. And with the fresh snow, great weather, awesome live music, and high participation, plus all of the funds raised to help the great work of CAIC, the 2022 DOJoe was a huge success.”
La Sportiva North America President Jonathan Lantz is one funky man.
Top photo courtesy Eldora Mountain Resort. All other photos courtesy Bruce Edgerly.