How it works: Skiers, snowboarders must go up before they come down

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 1, 2012 

THE COURSE

Where: Mt. Baker Ski Area.

Course length: Approximately 21/2 miles.

Approximate time to complete: 20 minutes for top finishers, 25 to 45 minutes for everyone else.

Course description: This leg is not so much about skiing or snowboading as it about the climb up the mountain before competitors can ski or snowboard back down. After a quick ski to the bottom of Chair 2, competitors begin a 1,000-foot climb up to the top of Chair 1. They then put their skis or snowboards back on to speed down Gunner's Ridge, Blueberry Cat Track, Home Run and 7-Hills to the exchange point beside the Ski Shop.

Downhill skiing/snowboarding race chair: Jim Welden

Pre-race meeting: 7:15 a.m. at the Ski Shop.

Timing chip: Receive the chip from the cross-country skier, ski the event and pass the chip off to the runner. The runner will swipe the chip to get the finish time for the downhill skiing/snowboarding leg. The downhill skier/snowboarder does not swipe the chip at either end of the leg.

WHAT'S NEW

Early release of cars: For the third year, the Ski to Sea Race Committee hopes to release cars from Mt. Baker Ski Area down the Mount Baker Highway approximately two hours earlier than it was able to do in past years. The committee will once again utilize a plan to send cars in police-escorted groups of 10 to 15 down the highway on the left side of road, while leaving the right side for competitors in the running leg.

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE

Mount Baker Highway will be closed at 7:30 a.m. at Canyon Creek Road in Glacier, going east toward the mountain. Any viewers, participants or additional support vehicles that want to go to the top of the mountain must pass Canyon Creek Road before then.

The road will be closed westbound at 7:30 a.m. at the Mount Baker Lodge and will not reopen until 9:30 a.m. No vehicles will be allowed to travel down the mountain before it reopens.

After 9:30 a.m. and for the duration of the running leg, vehicles traveling down Mount Baker Highway (west) will be dispersed in groups of 10 to 15, with police escort to ensure the safety of the participants. All drivers must stay in the left-hand lane, as the right lane will be reserved for runners. Dispersal is based on the flow of the race and may be delayed in case of emergency or other safety conditions.

Best place to watch the leg: Heather Meadows Day Lodge at Mt. Baker Ski Area, where spectators can see the handoff from the cross-country skiers, a long line of climbers heading up the uphill portion of the course and then a few minutes later see them come screaming off the slopes to hand off to the runners.

TIPS FOR THE RACE

• It might be a good idea to scout out the relay point with your cross-country skier and plan on meeting there.

• Dress comfortably. Avoid cotton. More than likely, you will slip during the climb.

• You are climbing in snow, and thus, you will be sinking as you step. Make sure to pace yourself.

• The snow in May is different from the snow the rest of the winter, so make sure that skis or snowboards are tuned for the current conditions. Wait until a couple of days prior to the race before deciding how to prepare gear.

TOP GUNS

Male winners

2008: Torin Koos (Barron Heating Mixed) 19:56

2009: Morgan Titus (Barron Heating) 20:36

2010: Max Taam (Boss Construction) 21:14

2011: Greg Ruckman (The Bagelry) 17:58

Female winners

2008: Brooke Gosling (Boundary Bay Brewery) 25:28

2009: Brooke Gosling (Boundary Bay Brewery) 24:32

2010: Sabrina Harper (Boundary Bay Brewery) 25:41

2011: Sabrina Harper (Boundary Bay Brewery) 24:33

SOURCE: SKI TO SEA

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