Sunday, April 01, 2012

Canyons Schlittentag 2012

Bill Benson and I journeyed over to Canyons for a nice day of spring skiing.  By "skiing", I mean going to a ski resort and watching other people ski. Mostly what we were there for was the 2nd annual Red Bull Schlittentag, or German for "Sledding Day".

Canyons definitely crushes the other local resorts when it comes to spring fun.  Lots of live bands and cool events mixed with a big renovated ski beach area.  Deer Valley and Park City could both learn a lot on this topic.
It was almost 70 degrees, the sun was shining, the snow was slush and brown spots were appearing everywhere on the runs. It doesn't take much more than this to get the locals thinking spring.
Here was an interesting way to combine spring biking and snow.  Look at the massive tires on that bike.
The idea behind Schlittentag is to sled down a hill. What constitutes a sled is completely up to you. You get rated for costumes, sled design, speed, and just finishing alive.

The first competitors set the tone with three boxes taped together. If you look closely, you can barely see the anchor for their boat, a cinder block in the back.
And when the person in the back threw out the anchor, it turned out that the anchor line was stronger than the box tape.  Her third of the ship was suddenly on its own. What I never figured out was why she threw the anchor before crossing the finish line.
One of the more popular sled designs was the recliner or couch on skis. They often went with some extra riders on the back.  Notice the handle he is pulling up.  That was one of the more common, and often unsuccessful, efforts at steering.
This one is almost like a clown car.  How two people got into this little thing is a mystery.  Perhaps this was sponsored by a local yoga studio?
And here the little car suffers from a fundamental race issue.  Down near the bottom of the course, there was a definite right-to-left slope.  This was nearly perfect at separating those who could steer from those who couldn't.  Fortunately, the netting kept the competitors out of the spectators.
This guy took a very simple approach: a mask and a cheap sled.  Not so surprising, he actually did very well, go fast and controlling his speed.  Boring though.
There were three judges, each of which rated a run on a 0-10 scale.  Whoever this was got a 0, and two 1/2s, for a total of 1.  Not one of the best efforts.
This was a sliding disaster.  It had a lot of wood, weighed a ton, and went wherever it wanted to.  I have no idea what it was supposed to be.
You can tell that they were happy with how things were proceeding.
Then they were caught like fish in the net when that left tilting slope came into play.  I think one of the biggest ironies is that for safety, all participants had to wear a helmet.  However, they were happy letting you ride a couch down the mountain.
This was one of the best entries.  It's Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine.  They actually kept it under control and finished quickly.  This was my pick for winner.
The Mario Borthers had a nice cart, but it crashed with a long ways to go.
These guys had a few chairs nailed together.  Right now they are heading down backwards, which isn't that surprising since their sled had a tendency to do 360s on its own.
Once again, simplicity works wonders. The different variations of air mattresses seemed to be easy, fast and somehow steerable.
One of the bigger efforts, and failures.  Basically a couch with skis and guys sitting on it.
Just a few feet down the hill, the couch is pitching everyone off.  You can see one of the skis right near the start line.
But you have to give them credit.  Flip it over, get it moving and pile on. This was working until the couch decided that like so many other sleds, it wanted to aim for the netting on the left.  It does look like fun!
This one threw me for a loop.  Double click on the image so you can see it better.  Notice the guy standing at a 45 degree angle.  How is that possible?
I get it!  He wasn't quite standing.  He was in the early phases of falling off.
Definitely one of the most stylish entries. They went with a car seat instead of a couch.
One of the only historically authentic Roman Love Seat Chariots you will find.
Three kids had a fairly basic sled.  About half way down they learned the value of staying out of the deep slush.
This ended up being one of the most dangerous costumes.
Right after this photo, the sled took a dive at the finish line.  The guy in the thong learned how speed, snow and skin can result in an ugly rash on your butt. 
These were supposed to be the Ghostbusters, but to me they looked like the men in sperm outfits from Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.
Another chair with guys piggy backing.
Some people made the mattresses work.  Others had a pretty epic fail.
Mattress 3, Riders 0.
... and in the end there were heaps of sled death.  Sad.
It was perfect weather for watching.  I hope that Canyons continues to grow this event into something more like the pond skimming.  With a little more marketing effort, I think it would draw big crowds of spectators and more entrants.  Very few of my friends had any idea it was taking place.

I do have to add that Canyons' Schlittentag is mild compared to many held around the country.  The courses are often longer, steeper, and have small jumps.  You can click here for some Youtube videos of other competitions.

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