THE SKI CHALLENGE is a recreational alpine ski racing league at Buck Hill and Wild Mountain. The Ski Challenge provides an atmosphere which caters to all levels of skill and competitiveness from the beginner to the veteran racer. Adults, kids and families can participate. There are many first time racers as well as past, or current, USSA, High School, and Collegiate racers participating. The unique team format and scoring system promote great camaraderie and interaction among racers.
The Ski Challenge began in 1985 as a Twin Cities Metro Area recreational ski racing program founded by Patricia Lecy. Patricia enjoyed racing through NASTAR courses and thought it would be fun to turn a simple NASTAR type of race into a grand, team event. She kicked off her idea with the “Media Challenge”. The idea was to get reporters, weather people, and other media celebrities outside in the winter participating in a ski racing. Patricia thought that if the media was engaged and interested in an outdoor, winter activity, they would be more apt to promote winter weather in a positive light instead of scaring people to hole up inside for half the year. This would be a good thing for all the participating ski areas and ski shops by encouraging more people to get outside during the long, cold Minnesota winters.
The Media Challenge was so much fun that Patricia thought it would be a great idea to invite the general public to join in. Thus the Twin Cities Ski Challenge was born. The program began with four teams (approximately 35 people) roving each week to different ski areas. After a couple years the program began to grow and Patricia decided to keep each league at its own venue. In time Buck Hill, Afton Alps, Hyland Hills, Trollhaugen, and Welch Village were involved with the Twin Cities Ski Challenge. As the years went on, the Challenge grew and grew.
In 1988 Patricia and her business partner at the time decided to split the Twin Cities Ski Challenge into two groups. Patricia kept leagues at Buck Hill and Hyland Hills and added Powder Ridge to the list. She also changed the name to “The Ski Challenge”. After a few years, Patricia added Wild Mountain to the race venue choices.
After 12 years Patricia grew the Ski Challenge to close to 1,200 registered racers. There were 12 leagues at four ski areas that included a total of 112 teams. There were seven leagues at Buck Hill with 62 total teams. Hyland Hills hosted two leagues with 20 total teams, Powder Ridge had one league with nine teams, and Wild Mountain had two leagues with 21 Teams. In 1997, Dave and Barb Everson purchased The Ski Challenge from Patricia and Roger Lecy who retired to Tucson for the winters. Sadly, Patricia Lecy passed away in 2006 from Cancer.
Buck Hill has the largest number of Ski Challenge leagues. Prior to 2000, the facilities and timing capabilities at Buck Hill only allowed 10 teams per league. In 2000, Buck Hill opened a new facility, Buckstone Lodge and upgraded their timing system. Buck Hill and The Ski Challenge worked together to make races run efficiently and smoothly. These improvements gave The Ski Challenge the opportunity to add more teams to each league and increase the maximum to 16 teams per league with a potential of 160 racers per league.
Ski Challenge has evolved into one of the finest and largest team-oriented recreational race leagues in the country allowing adults, kids, and families to participate. Ski Challenge is ranked as NASTAR’s number one race club in the country nearly every year and Buck Hill is oftentimes the number one NASTAR resort. Today, close to 1,500 racers of all ages register for Ski Challenge each year. There are 103 regular season teams at Buck Hill and 29 at Wild Mountain. Ski Challenge’s size and long time commitment to its members are testimony to the exciting racing and quality experience that it provides.