Thick ice on Hosmer Pond bodes well for Toboggan Nationals, team registrations close Feb. 1
CAMDEN — Registrations are open and racing slots are filling for the 27th season of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships in Camden. Organizers have been pleased with the persistent cold temperatures needed to freeze Hosmer Pond, onto which toboggans run out after exiting the 400-foot-long chute on Camden's Ragged Mountain.
As of Jan. 20, the thickness of the ice on Hosmer was 14 inches and the crew put the runout boards onto the ice in preparation for the Toboggan National weekend, Feb. 10-12. The long-range weather forecast shows some warming along the coast during the days, but the nights will remain at or below freezing, boding well for another great year on the ice. Cold-weather enthusiasts from across the country are signing up to compete in the fierce but friendly contest for coveted mahogany trophies, and bragging rights.
"Last year's warm weather threw us a curve ball and forced a last-minute move onto Ragged Mountain," said event Chairman Holly S. Edwards. "But we rallied the troops to build a chute on the snow and made sure that everyone who paid to race did. We held a full competition in one day, gave out trophies and everybody seemed to take it all in stride and have a blast as usual."
For more than 25 years, costume-clad racers of all ages have slid down the ice-filled wooden chute onto the frozen surface of Hosmer Pond. 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. Either way, the family-friendly event lives up to its moniker as "Maine's Mardi Gras," where Carhartts and Bean boots are as popular as beads and masks.
"Our race is all about turning the bitter cold into something to celebrate," said Edwards. "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 of taking the plunge."
The number of teams is capped at 425 to ensure each team gets two shots for a best time and eligibility to compete in Sunday's finals. Registration closes Feb. 1. 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.
Team registrations are now open at camdensnowbowl.com/toboggan-championships for two-person, three-person and four-person teams as well as an "experimental" division for intrepid makers.
The 2017 U.S. National Toboggan Championships and Winterfest are sponsored by: (GOLD) Camden National Bank, Sea Dog Brewing Co., Maine Today Media; (SILVER) Adventure Advertising, Bay View Collection, MaineCoast TV, Penobscot Bay Pilot, Broadreach Public Relations; (BRONZE) Journey's End Marina, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Design Shorty & Co.; (COPPER) Spouter Inn Bed and Breakfast, Avis/Budget, Knockabout Toys, Manny's and Karyl's, Ballou & Associates and Camden Area Business Group.
• Competitive Tobogganing in Maine. Well, Sort Of Competitive. (New York Times-Travel, Jan. 17)
About the U.S. National Toboggan Championships
The 27th Annual U.S National Toboggan Championships, as the signature event of Camden's Winterfest, has grown to attract people from all over the U.S., as well as internationally. The Toboggan Championships and Winterfest have become major fundraisers for the municipally-owned and operated Camden Snow Bowl, the only ski area in the country with views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Toboggan Championships brings with it a rich history of community spirit, costumes, traditions and family fun. Information on registration, rules, toboggan regulations, parking and more can be found at www.camdensnowbowl.com/toboggan-championships or by calling 207-236-3438.