Colorado’s rando king raves about the thrill of the up-and-down race

How did you get started in randonee skiing?
I don’t even know. My first race was in Crested Butte, which would have been six or seven years ago. I did the race and enjoyed it and just started doing more and more. Then I started up the COSMIC series five years ago and the rest is history.

Rando Man: Swenson has become the Godfather of freeheel racing in the U.S.

What was the impetus behind the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup Series, better known as COSMIC?
Honestly it was while racing in Europe. I thought, “we’ve got mountains in Colorado as well and we’ve got plenty of great skiers, but we just didn’t have very many randonee races.” So my thought was why not bring it to Colorado? And it’s proven to be very popular.

What’s the allure of randonee?
The mix of skills: it’s a combination of Nordic skiing when you’re going up, then it turns into big mountain skiing on 160’s. It’s always so variable that it never gets old.

Randonee ski racing has really grown in the last few years, what’s next?
I think there will be more hill climb events, such as the town of Breckenridge’s Vertical Series—they are doing six races, and these are only 20 to 30 minutes long. I think the established events will hopefully continue to grow, but I think the growth’s going to come from more ski areas having smaller events before and after work just to give people a chance to do it more.

How do people get started in the sport?
Go out with a friend with a little experience in places like Breckenridge, which is very friendly to beginners. And check out because I am going to give some introduction-to-race clinics as well as more advanced clinics.