The Thunderbolt Ski Run
With origins dating back to the 1930s, the annual race at Mount Greylock attracts intrepid backcountry skiers and snowboarders to challenge themselves and each other on the Class A trail down the state's highest peak. Unlike ski races you've seen on television, there is no chair lift to the top. Participants make the two hour trek up the mountain under their own power. Once at the top, they launch themselves down the steep, fast and narrow Thunderbolt Trail.
The Thunderbolt Ski Trail was originally cleared down the precipitous east slope of Mount Greylock in the 1930s as a public works project of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It quickly became known for the annual world-class race that attracted top skiers from across the country and Europe. The fastest known time down the trail is 2 minutes, 8.6 seconds, set by Norwegian Olympian, Per Klippgen in 1948. Modern racers compete in seven total categories: Alpine, Telemark, Snowboard, Women's Overall, The Ascent, and both King and Queen of the Mountain for fastest overall combined time up and down the mountain. For 2014 race results, click here.
With the advent of ski areas, the trail fell into disrepair after World War 2 until 2008 when the Thunderbolt Ski Runners, a group of local backcountry ski and snowboard enthusiasts, took it on themselves to restore the historic ski run and revive the race. After years of volunteer work, the modern Thunderbolt Ski Race was first held in 2010, on the 75th anniversary of the original. Today, the Thunderbolt is the last remaining Class A, backcountry ski trail.
Other than race day, the trail is freely open for skiers and boarders interested in the challenge and thrills of the Thunderbolt. In other seasons, the trail is a popular hike to the summit.
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