Jeff Riazi Puts the “rad” in Colorado

By Adam Behrens

 

Colorado is known for its world-class skiing. While many head to the mountains during the season, most ski lovers in the area spend their time on the blues and greens casually carving turns for a few hours before settling into the lodge for a bacon Bloody Mary. However, some drop in on technical and steep runs (double black) that test the skills of even experienced skiers. Take those highly technical runs and add the element of an endurance race and you have the Arapahoe Basin Enduro, a 10-hour leg-burning, hill event.

OnDeck’s own Jeff Riazi, Sr. Associate General Counsel, was a participant in this year’s race.

What is the Arapahoe Basin Enduro and when did you decide you wanted to participate?

The Enduro is a 10-hour non-stop race on designated lines under the Pallavicini lift at Arapahoe Basin.  Known to most as “Pali,” this chair serves one of the most iconic peaks of [inbound] North American skiing. Steeps, chutes, cliffs, you name it, this is Colorado skiing. The vast majority of the lines are double black+.

As for the race, it starts with skiers lining up off their skis, with Jimmy Hendrix’s rendition of “Star-Spangled Banner” playing off the loud-speakers. The avalanche blasting cannon goes off sharp at 7 a.m. to mark the start of the race. Racers scramble to get their skis on, and the race is off. And, it continues, non-stop, until 5 p.m. that day.

This was year five for me and my ski partner. Back in 2015 when we did our first one, my kids were two and one, and I was losing the fight against the baby weight. So I figured, why not!  Each year we have tied or beaten our prior year, so we have a nice little tradition going; trying to edge out our prior record.

Can you provide a metaphor for non-skiers that explains what it feels like to compete in this race?

For normal, sane, people, it’s about a week’s worth (or long weekend’s worth) of skiing, in one day.

How many runs did you complete?

58. The winner was in the 60’s.

Are you going to compete next year? What’s your goal?

Always! This year was 58; so next year’s goal is 59.

How do you train for a race like this?

If you are generally fit and have the skill to get down the lines, you can do it.  I would say that 20 percent is skill and 80 percent is mental.  I am having fun the first three hours, then the next 7 hours is concentration. Focusing on the next run only, not letting the discomfort be a distraction, and enjoying the turns. After all, it’s skiing.

What was the most memorable aspect of the day?

What makes the race special is that it’s really a charity event. Every year it benefits actual people. That’s what this is all about.

This year’s event benefited two people fighting cancer: A young woman in high school fighting bone cancer and an older gentleman fighting bladder cancer. After the race at the benefit dinner, I sat next to this gentleman and got a chance to know him and hear his story. His innately positive energy, never-stop-fighting outlook on life, and smile were all more inspirational than anything I had seen on the mountain that day.