CAMDEN, Maine - There will be formal ceremonies, world-class athletes, and blinding media glare when the Winter Olympics open in Vancouver. Across the continent in Maine, they’ve swapped the formalities for frivolity at the National Toboggan Championships.
The 20th annual event that kicked off yesterday featured participants in outrageous outfits and old-school wooden toboggans.
Teams had names like Redneck Racers, Knuckleheads, Runaway Brides, and Sliding Jesuits. Even the Maine State Prison staff entered a team.
“It’s much more of a party than the Olympics. There’s a huge tailgate party associated with it,’’ said Jeff Kuller, general manager of the Camden Snow Bowl, where the event is held.
Competitors mingle with one another and the competition is more laid-back than breakneck.
Participants come from far and wide for the opportunity to race down the 400-foot chute. There are 400 teams this year, including participants from Austria and Denmark.
There are few rules other than the fact that the toboggan must be made of wood - the same style of the out-of-control sled favored by Calvin and Hobbes