You’re at the top of the 1,310-foot Ragged Mountain at the Camden Snow Bowl, balanced precariously at the entrance to a 400-foot ice-lined toboggan chute. You can see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, stretching to the horizon, as you adjust your goggles. The chilly winter wind stirs the flakes of powder around you. Legs are wrapped around laps, grips are tightened, and now you and your team of two or three good friends are ready to go. Did you remember to wax the bottom of your toboggan? It’s too late to think about it. The signal timer is counting down. Three … two … one, and whoosh! You launch yourselves, plummeting down the toboggan luge track at breakneck speeds, shooting hundreds of yards onto the frozen surface of Hosmer Pond at the bottom, vying for one of the coveted mahogany trophies in the 27th running of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships.
Pique your interest? Registrations for the Toboggan Nationals weekend, February 10-12, are now open at www.camdensnowbowl.com/toboggan-championships/ for two-person, three-person and four-person teams as well as a “experimental” division for ‘makers’ who want to race in unconventional ways. Registration closes on the first. The cost is $30 per person. The entry fee for experimental teams is $120, and teams in this class can consist of two, three or four people on the toboggan.
The weekend, the crowning event of Camden’s WinterFest, is billed as “Maine’s Mardi Gras.” Quite a claim, but the consensus is that organizers, racers and fans have helped the event live up to the moniker: “Teams have raced dressed as the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy Gale, Crash Test Dummies, and bags of Wonder Bread. Some prepare for the event by lubing their sleds with secret ingredients to heat up the competition, while others prepare to tailgate and sneak over for some time on the ski slopes … Carhartts and Bean boots are as popular as beads and masks.”
Last year, warm weather forced officials to move the event to another part of the mountain and condense the entire competition into one day of racing. But this year, the ice on the pond looks good, and no snags are foreseen that would prevent hundreds of competitors from around the country and the world from taking the plunge. Event Chairman Holly S. Edwards said, “Our race is all about turning the bitter cold into something to celebrate. Riding a wooden sled 400 feet down an ice-luge with three of your best friends in bunny costumes is nothing if not exhilarating! And people come from all over to take a shot at winning, or just conquering their fear …”
We can think of much worse ways to spend a mid-winter’s weekend.
FMI: www.camdensnowbowl.com/toboggan-championshipsor 207-236-3438