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Racing with Snow Drifters

Ski/Snowboard Racing is just one of many activities open to Snow Drifters members. The racing is at a recreational level aimed at all levels of skiers from beginner up, and is primarily fun. The "Snow Drifters Race Team" is not an elite team that you might eventually aspire to join, but a team that you can opt to join from the start, even if you've never even strapped on a pair of skis or a board before. You'll find fun and cameraderie and, if you've never raced before, a great new way to challenge yourself and improve your skiing and/or snowboarding.

We race in the Singles League Racing program, and also in championships organized by the BAC and the Far West Racing Association. There are many classes to divide people into ability groups, from absolute beginners to Masters level, plus there are separate skier and snowboarder classes. As you improve your racing skill, you are automatically moved into a higher class to keep the competition even and fair.

Usually four different courses are set on different slopes with varying degrees of difficulty. The race course is basically just alternating blue and red poles placed in the snow that you need to turn around. One of the courses is designed for beginners and is set on the "bunny slopes" where you can snowplow down if you're still at that stage. You can go as fast or slow as you wish!

Unless your name is Bode Miller, there is a class that's just right for you.

Irwin, Homewood GS '05

What equipment do you need to buy for this? Well, if you have your own ski/board gear, basically nothing more except maybe a helmet if you don't have one. Sure, if you really get into it and get good you might end up in a race suit, the owner of a fleet of skis or a race board, and with more colors in your wax box than a ski bunny has in her lipstick drawer, but the vast majority of racers in the league race on the same skis or board that they free ski or ride on all the time.

Each race run will last for only about a minute, but you get two runs in each race. For the higher classes the two run times are added together, but for the mid-level and lower classes the best time is taken, so you get two chances to try to get a good result. You also get a chance to inspect the race course before the race so all in all a typical race will take somewhere between one and two hours of your day.

At the end of the day, small trophies are awarded to the top 3 people who finish in each class. You also earn points for yourself and for your club, and at the end of the season trophies are awarded to the top points finishers in each class. First place in the beginners class gets the same trophy as the first place finisher in the top class!

Aida, '04 Far West Championships

Initially, you are timed and placed in a "class" with people of similar ability level. The great thing about this is that you immediately meet people who ski about the same speed as yourself. When your race is over you have a bunch of new friends of the same ability to ski with. Since you usually spend a little time in line at the starting gate, you also have a great opportunity to make new friends. Since the racing is designed to be FUN, most people don't take it too seriously and the competition is generally good natured and low key. But if you're feeling competitive, there's plenty of that too...

All of this adds up to a fun on-mountain experience! At the end of the season there is a gala event to reward everyone for a great season. Its a great way to socialize with others from your own ski club and others around the Bay Area.

If you're interested in racing with us, please contact our race director Greg M.

Craig in the gate

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