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Burlington Ski Race Fun for Skiers, Concerns Police

About 50 people participated in the race down Maple Street but police showed up amid concerns for safety.

As midnight rung in Valentine's Day, the love for snow lured skiers out to the streets of Burlington.

“It's like puzzle pieces coming down from the sky and making my dream happen in front of me,” Ryan Rubino said.

“It was just….I mean it was epic.”

Rubino was part of what skiers are calling the first-ever Burlington Chinese Downhill, a race from the top of Maple Street to the bottom at Perkins Pier.

“It was pow turns at the top and some skating down at the bottom,” Rubino said.

There were more than 50 skiers, snowboarders and bikers that took part including UVM senior and ski club member Kaitlin Spina.

“This is one thing where I was kind of like I can't pass this up,” Spina said.

Spina says she was the third person to make it to the pier and the first girl to finish

Her pictures from the bottom of the street show nothing but smiles. Earlier at the top of Maple Street however she was surprised when Burlington Police officers arrived.

“It definitely was a lot crazier than I thought it was going to be between you know cutting across streets and intersections and you know the cops showing up,” Spina said.

“Some of the Burlington police did show up which was great,” Rubino said.

“You know they just wanted to check in to see if things were going safe, if people were breaking the law which was great because it wasn’t the case. We were just there to have good, clean fun.”

But Burlington police say they are worried about the safety of the skiers.

“The mountains are made for skiing and the streets are made for driving on,” Lt. Dennis Duffy said.

Burlington police said no arrests or citations were made last night but they will be looking out for unsafe behavior in the future.

“You know whether they ran a stop sign or intersection there are ordinances you can be ticketed for,” Lt. Duffy said.

Police say their biggest concern with this downhill race is that a skier could blow through an intersection and end up getting hurt or hurting someone else.

“We’ll have those accidents where people aren’t stopping for the intersections, people are coming and following the rules of the road don’t see them coming whether they’re behind parked cars or on the street. You just don’t see them until it’s too late,” Lt. Duffy said.

Rubino says they were focusing on being safe but recognizes the safety concerns of his sport.

“If you look at any ticket stub you’ll see ‘skiing is an inherently dangerous sport.’ And it is but I think here we weren’t going 30 miles per hour, which is one of the things that we didn’t break the law we didn’t go over the speed limit and it was really kind of contained,” Rubino said.

Rubino says the turnout for first Burlington Chinese Downhill was more than he could have hoped for and he’s planning on doing it again next year.

“That was just the start of what I think is something that's pretty special for skiers in this town,” Rubino said.

But Burlington police say they hope it was a one-time only event. 

I would advise them against it,” Lt. Duffy said.

“We certainly want to work with people but we also want to make sure the public's safe.”

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