Look Ma’ relayers have rocking good time
If falling flat on your face and running into a gate were surefire ways to win a steep relay race, there’s no doubt Emily Anger and the members of her team would have taken it all.
Despite the comical assortment of tasks competitors had to complete in Saturday’s “Look Ma Rocking Relay Race” on Vail Mountain, the victors of Saturday’s race still were ultimately judged on time. After a mishap with a Snobike and some poor directions for the blinded skier of the last leg of the race, Anger and her teammates were just edged out of the winner’s circle.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” said Ari Morris, who was the Snobike leg of the race.
Yes, it is harder than it looks. Highline Sports hosted the first-time event at Mid-Vail, and the 11 four-member teams who signed up seemed to have gotten more than they bargained for.
The first member of the relay team had to run up a snowy slope – in ski or snowboard boots, no less – and come back down the hill carrying a tray stacked with cups. Dropping the tray or the cups would result in a minute added to the final time.
The second and third leg of the relay team waited at the top of an adjacent slope. The second person had to spin around a pole in the snow, hop onto an airboard – an inflatable sled of sorts – and slalom down the slope. At the end, that person raises a flag, sending the third leg on a Snobike down the same slope.
The anchor for the team, wearing a pair of goggles spray-painted black, had to maneuver through an obstacle course. The only help the anchor could get were verbal directions from a teammate – touching was not allowed. After completing the course, this person had to run up a hill of snow and ring a bill.
Failing to complete any of these tasks would result in a time penalty.
Team SKEA Rocks seemed poised to win. The front leg of the race, Bobbie Ann Houtsma, has spent the last several months training for the Boston Marathon. Running up a short, albeit steep, slope of snow seemed easy. Plus her teammates – SKEA owner Diane Irwin, daughter Morgan Houtsma and son Scott Houtsma, and captain Scott Witington – had a plan.
“We’re going to cheat,” Irwin said.
Her team qualified for the second and final round after a smooth finish in the first heat, but that’s where the enthusiastic, self-described “sleeper team” hit some rough patches. The airboard went flying out from underneath Scott and the Snobike was characteristically uncooperative.
And after developing a list of cheating strategies, adult members Irwin and Bobbie Houtsma opted to play it straight.
“It’s a family event,” Irwin said.
In the end, it was between Team Mid-Vail and Team Vail Athletic Club. Both teams were out in front during the first leg of the race, took control of the airboard and Snobike portions of the race, and were neck-and-neck when entering the last leg of the race: the obstacle course.
However, an apparent communication breakdown left Vail Athletic Club’s Jimmy Saunders a bit off-track, stumbling around gates and tripping over snow. Mid-Vail’s Dave Basil pulled away and was the first to climb the snow hill and ring the bell, setting the event’s first record with a time of 5:39.
“We won, that’s all,” Basil said, adding that his teammate’s performance on the Snobike is what sealed the win.
What a gracious winner.
Winners of first Look Ma’ Rocking Relay:
Kevin Anderson, a.k.a. “String”
Each team member gets a 2004-05 five-resort pass from Vail Resorts
Team Vail Athletic Club
Team receives $500
Team Bairs ‘r Us
Each team member gets an airboard
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: email@example.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.