Al Johnson Race Celebrates 40 Years: “9-0 or Don’t Go”

In the late 1880s, Al Johnson strapped 11-foot-long skis to his leather boots and climbed over mountain passes Crystal, Colo. to Crested Butte to deliver the mail. He was a badass to say the least. Ninety years later, in 1974 to be exact, amid a telemark renaissance, the Crested Butte freeheel community started the Al Johnson memorial Uphill/Downhill telemark ski race to honor Johnson’s effort. It’s part athleticism, part anarchy and all circus sideshow. This year, the race celebrates its 40th anniversary.