The Stowe Derby started in 1945 as a personal challenge between Austrian Sepp Ruschp, who was hired to come to America and head the new ski school at Stowe, and Norwegian Erling Strom, a world famous mountaineer.

The challenge remains the same Feb. 22 as it was 64 years ago: Race from the top of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, to the historic village of Stowe on a single pair of skis.

This combination of downhill and cross-country skiing is considered the ultimate test of a skier's ability. Ruschp won the first Stowe Derby.

Today, the race attracts as many as 1,000 competitors each year, ranging from Canadian Cross Country Ski Team members and NCAA Champions to recreational skiers looking for a thrill. The race is competitive but fun race.

It follows Mt. Mansfield's Toll Road, a beginner alpine ski trail, and then runs along nearly the entire length of the Stowe Recreation Path before reaching the finish in the village.

The course has a total vertical drop of over 3,000 feet. The winners will complete the course in under 40 minutes, while recreational skiers can take a couple of hours to go the same distance.

The event is run by the Mt. Mansfield Ski and Snowboard Club, founded in 1934.