The Wasatch Powder Keg was started in 2003 by Andrew McLean, Butch Adams, and Colleen Nipkow with support from Black Diamond (who is still the race’s title sponsor).
The race was originally part of the Life Link race series that originally brought skimo racing to the US.
For the first few years, the Powder Keg started at Alta and finished at Brighton. In 2004 and 2005, the Powder Keg was a World Cup race. To this day, the Powder Keg is the only race in North America to ever be on the World Cup circuit.
The race eventually went away from the point to point format as racers were so fast that the race organizers could barely drive from Alta to Brighton before the first racers finished! For the next several years the race both started and finished at Alta.
In 2009, the race was taken over by Chad Brackelsberg, Emily Brackelsberg, Mark Christopherson, and Gambrelli Layco. In 2010, the race was moved to Brighton where it remains today.
Having helped get the race fully operational, in 2012 Mark and Gambrelli stepped down, and the race was run by Chad and Emily.
In 2012, a sprint race was also added which provided a fun, fast, crowd friendly event after the regular race.
In 2013, the Powder Keg became the first 3 day race in North America featuring a Friday Sprint Race, Saturday Individual Race, and Sunday Technical Teams Race.
In 2014, The Powder Keg was an International Ski Mountaineering Federation sanctioned race and hosted the North American Ski Mountaineering Championships, which brought together 300 racers over the 3 days to comprise the most competitive ski mountaineering race ever held in North America.
In 2020, Chad and Emily passed management of the race onto Silverfork Skimo, the local youth team.
To our knowledge, the Powder Keg is the largest and second oldest skimo race in the US.