Beer Leagues, Mt. Brighton & Team XLR8
02.18.2019 |Claire Thomas
Sure, the beer may flow like wine in Aspen. But at Mount Brighton, not only does the beer flow on Wednesday nights, (crazy good deals on pints), but so does a burning passion for ski racing. I’d take that any day.
Mt. Brighton, part of the Vail Resorts “Epic” Family since 2012, maintains an impressive 25 trails and five lifts, truly one-of-a-kind given the small-scale traditional Midwestern ski resort. And although locals are able to indulge in their choosing of terrain-parks or groomers, they often choose the Wednesday night Adult Race League, aka the Beer League. There are some regulars who drive as much as an hour to race! Kids on the other hand compete in the equally as impressive “XLR8” Race Program at Mount Brighton.
Wayne Schreck (48), hailing from Ann Arbor Michigan, sports the Blizzard Firebird WRC model and a strong familiarity with the Wednesday night scene not many claim. Schreck has been coming back since 1996. After racing in college at Michigan State University, Schreck couldn’t hang up his skis just yet. The beer league has been his perfect fix.
Beyond his pure urge for some wind in his face, the avenue into NASTAR Nationals via Beer League also made Schreck a regular. “In 1999 I went to NASTAR Nationals in Beaver Creek, and I had a great time” he says. “That’s why I [go] back year after year”. Because Mt. Brighton utilizes NASTAR for its dual racing platform, participants not only have the opportunity to compete for the prizes of the night (and the beer), but they also can compare their times to national pacesetters and potentially qualify for NASTAR Nationals.
“I have been fortunate enough to be on the podium all eight times that I’ve been to Nationals”, says Schreck. Although his success would likely drive anyone back, “the camaraderie has been a major highlight” he remarks. “I have friends I’ve raced with from grade school and college [in the beer league]” Schreck adds. “No matter if you’re competitive and wearing a suit or just out there for fun, everyone has a great time.”
“There is no end in sight for me” Schreck claims. “I would like to continue racing for as long as I can”.
For kids looking to get their start in ski racing, Mount Brighton is also an ideal location. “XLR8”, currently amassing an impressive 32 USSA coaches and offering a program for kids from 6-18 year olds, similarly utilizes NASTAR as its racing platform. And it’s clearly working.
“Since 2010 we have been a top 20 Resort Team at NASTAR Nationals” says Brian Lovejoy, the program director. But “to win the Resort Team Championship in 2018 was absolutely fantastic” Lovejoy exclaims. Their team was led by two members (Lily Papineau and Brittany Freudenberger) who received their third consecutive NASTAR National Championship at Squaw last season.
“I like to think that our success is proof of our character building curriculum,” says Lovejoy. “We want an environment where we are safe to push our limits, try something new, fail, learn again and try again without [reservations]” he says. Lovejoy believes that “character and success must work hand in hand”, and NASTAR may be the premiere place for that. Because time comparison is inherent to NASTAR, kids are forced at a young age to handle loss and adversity, push hard r for the success they want to see, and support their teammates even when they don’t have a good day. “We support each other. We are a team and a family” Lovejoy says.
For any Southeast Michiganders looking for some Wednesday night fun, the Adult Race League is alive and well from 6-9 p.m. every Wednesday night from early January through early March. Or visit the XLR8 website for information on how to join.