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  • Family Ski Racing:
    Check out the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge

    By Richard Brenne

    Photo courtesy Alpine MeadowsMy wife Anne crouched like a stalking lion in the starting gate. "Racer ready! Five, four, three, two, one, GO!" the starter yelled, and she exploded out of the start.

    "Good job, honey!" I called after her.

    She looked back up at me from her snowplow and said, "Don't patronize me," something which may have been uttered before or after, but maybe never during a ski race.

    Still, she was neck and neck with our friend Cole, who was racing in the dual giant slalom course on ten-year-old Telemark skis. Cole surged into the lead, but with a last burst of speed Anne passed him, beating him by six-tenths of a second.

    Then our seven-year-old daughter Sarah beat her mom by 40 seconds. Oh well. While my wife's not quitting her night job for a World Cup career, she had a blast. And for someone who only skis two or so times a year, the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge was a great way to get her up skiing.

    The Vertical Challenge, which is held on NASTAR-type courses, has been a huge success in the Northeast for many years.

    When you register beginning at 8:00 a.m. for the free race at the base of the ski area, the Vertical Challenge people will give you a bib with a number on it. You'll be able to race anytime from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 or 2:00 p.m., in any order.

    Hang onto your bib, because when the awards ceremony and raffle begin about 2:00 p.m., you might be able to win Rossignol skis and snowboards, Motorola two-way radios, Atlas Snowshoes, Mountainsmith packs, and a six-pack of Mountain Dew, which has the same ingredients as your car battery.

    The top three finishers for both genders in each age group get medals and they're invited back to the finals, where they'll be given free lift tickets.

    Skiers and snowboarders of all ages are invited to participate, and they have age groupings about every three years for kids from ages six and under to every ten years for adults up to age 76 and over. Kids love to race their parents, although not always vice versa.

    "Don't patronize me!" became a running family joke, especially when Sarah offered to race her Mom while on one ski, blindfolded, and skiing backwards.

    East Coast Schedule 2009:
    Wednesday, February 18 Cranmore Mountain Resort, NH
    Thursday, February 19 Black Mountain, NH
    Sunday, February 22 Gunstock Mountain Resort, NH
    Wednesday, February 25 Attitash, NH
    Friday, February 27 Crotched Mountain, NH
    Saturday, February 28 Bolton Valley, VT
    Sunday, March 1 Ascutney Mountain, VT
    Saturday, March 7 Camelback, PA
    Sunday, March 8 Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, MA
    Friday, March 13 Cannon Mountain, NH
    Saturday, March 14 Bromley Mountain, VT
    Sunday, March 15 Mount Snow, VT
    Saturday, March 28 Loon Mountain, NH - FINALS

    All dates subject to change. Check with resort to confirm.

    For more info visit their website here .

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