Sunlight’s Defiance Challenge raises funds for volunteer ski patrol — in memory of one of their own

Portion of proceeds from Friday event will go to family of fallen Buttermilk patroller Jaime Tudryn

Past Defiance Challenge participants Aidan Corcoran and Bennett Walter leave the lift area en route to one of their several ski runs.

Friday’s annual Defiance Challenge ski endurance event at Sunlight Mountain Resort isn’t just about getting pumped up for 10 hours straight. It’s also about honoring the hard work of the volunteer ski patrol, while remembering one of their own who has passed.

A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Defiance Challenge will be donated in the memory of former Buttermilk Mountain patroller Jaime Tudryn, who died Christmas Day 2018 at age 33 from complications related to a brain aneurism.

Jaime’s husband, Matt Tudryn, also a former Buttermilk patroller who now lives in Massachusetts, plans to use the money raised for the college education fund of the couple’s now 2-year-old son, Bode.

“It’s an honor, and it shows just how much of an impact Jaime had during the time we lived out there,” Tudryn said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Jaime was an avid skier all her life and skied competitively in high school and college.

“To be able to carry that out the rest of her life and turn it into a career was a great thing for her, and obviously made an impact on people,” Matt Tudryn said.

Though he and Bode now live in Massachusetts where he works as a firefighter paramedic, he said they maintain some ties to Jaime’s family in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Defiance Challenge organizers hope to attract up to 50 two-person teams to participate in the annual charity event Friday.

The event challenges teams to complete the most runs down the mountain in a 10-hour period, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. The entry fee of $155 covers a pair of lift tickets, commemorative T-shirts and hats, and an after-event party including a silent auction, dinner and awards ceremony.

A past Defiance Challenge team of patrollers from Wisconsin celebrate at the finish.

As of Tuesday, event organizer Cindy Henderson said there were 17 teams registered, so there’s still plenty of space. Registration is available online, or on the morning of the event starting at 6:15 a.m. at the Sunlight base lodge.

Skiers still looking for a partner to participate in the event can call in advance at 970-945-9425 to see if others are looking to be paired up. Volunteers are also still needed to help with the event. Contact Michelle Eisenring at to sign up.

Half the event proceeds go to support the Sunlight Volunteer Ski Patrol, a nonprofit organization that has provided emergency medical care, safety and rescue services at the small ski area for more than 50 years.

The Defiance Challenge features a Le Mans-style start outside the base lodge. A starting gun signals participants to sprint to their waiting skis or snowboards, clip into their bindings, then scramble in a mad rush to the chairlift for the ride to the top of the mountain to begin racking up as many descents as possible on 40 different expert runs.

Every double-black diamond run on the mountain and several tree runs are included.

“For safety reasons, team partners must stick together and log each completed run at the scorers’ table before loading the chairlift for another ride to the top,” according to a description of the event.

Last year’s Challenge was won by local skiers Bobby Lombardi and Joel Schute, who each completed 46 runs for a total of about 70,000 vertical feet. Lombardi also completed 46 runs in 2016 with ski partner and Sunlight ski patroller Tom Brunner.

Chance Balis, right, and Zeva Carruth at a past Defiance Challenge event.

Though some participants in past events have come from out of state and elsewhere around Colorado, most are from the Glenwood Springs area. They’ve also run the gamut in age from 6 to 64.

“The youngest entrant, Kai Clauson, was the son of Silverton Mountain ski patroller John Clauson, whose family received Defiance Challenge funds in 2013 after he died from acute leukemia,” according to a press release.

The seven previous Defiance Challenge events have raised thousands of dollars for the families of patrollers killed or injured by avalanche, fire, helicopter crash and an explosives accident.

Past honorees have included:

  • Mark Gage, Loveland Basin
  • John Clauson, Silverton Mountain
  • Rocky Scott Miles, Copper Mountain
  • Jesse Williams, Powderhorn Resort
  • Dave Repsher, a flight nurse from Breckenridge who was badly burned in a helicopter crash
  • Joe Zuiches, Winter Park and Squaw Valley, Calif.
Defiance Challenge Details

When: 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Friday, March 6

Where: Sunlight Mountain Resort, Glenwood Springs

What: 10-hour charity ski and snowboard endurance challenge

Entry fee: $155 per two-person team

Beneficiaries: Sunlight Volunteer Ski Patrol and family of fallen Buttermilk ski patroller Jaime Tudryn

Information: 970-945-9425, or at the Sunlight Ski Patrol website

Sunlight’s mountain manager, Mike Baumli, helped to organize the resort’s first Defiance Challenge in 2012. He said he was inspired by a similar 13-hour “Enduro” event at Arapahoe Basin ski area that has been going on for three decades.

“There are other endurance events out there,” Baumli said, “but we wanted to do something for both skiers and snowboarders that would showcase our mountain’s character, charm and all it has to offer — including the lifts.”

Baumli said the retro two-seat chairlifts at Sunlight are an important part of the Defiance Challenge experience, since the relatively slow 12-minute ride to the top of the main Primo lift is about the only time participants have a chance to eat, drink and catch their breath before the next run.

The Challenge gets its name from Sunlight’s Defiance run on the East Ridge — a steep, north-facing trail that’s long been a favorite of expert skiers and boarders.                                          

Participants in a past Defiance Challenge event race to their skis at the start of the 10-hour competition.

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