Downhill skiing breakdown: What's new, tips for the race, viewing advice

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 14, 2014 

Ski to Sea Race downhill leg

Karin Ayling of the team The Real Housewives of Whatcom County climbs up the mountain for the downhill leg of the 2013 Ski to Sea Race.

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

THE COURSE

Year leg added to the race: 1973 (one of original three); snowboarding added as an option in 2004.

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 snowboarding as it is 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: Roger Gresley.

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

Timing chip: Receive the chip from the cross-country skier, ski the leg 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.

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 Mt. Baker Ski Area Heather Meadows Day Lodge. No vehicles will be allowed to travel down the mountain before it reopens.

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 mountain 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.

2013 TOP FINISHERS

Men: J. Marshall Thomson (Barron Heating) 18:37

Women: Amber Clements (Ski2SeaUlater) 18:59

SOURCE: SKI TO SEA

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