The 2008 Sloan Cup Family Fun Race, a one-day alpine GS, was held on Mount Ashland last Saturday.

Skiing on soft spring snow, parents, athletes and coaches were laughing all over the hill. The race was the last event held by the Mount Ashland Race Association (MARA), and it was all about the families involved in the organization.

The smiles and giggles happening all day weren’t spurred only from the joy of spring break, but by all the silly outfits worn by many athletes and coaches. Wigs, capes, retro apparel, dresses and even bunny ears layered over speed-racing suits and helmets offered tons of photo ops for parents and really eased the stress of racing.

One-hundred-fifty athletes, ranging from 6 years old to masters and beyond, included many families that competed together in the race.
Tessa Houck, a North Medford junior who recently participated in the high school state championships, had the chance to race with her entire family.

“Check it out… that’s my sister shredding it up!” Tessa said, pointing to her sister Rylee Houck, 11 years old, wearing a super hero cape as she descended the lower half of the course.

At the top of the second run, her dad, Don Houck, 54, overheard advice from Tessa’s coach about upper body position. Dad, searching for a way to keep up with his kids, turned and asked, “So coach, that’s what do I need to do?”

In between the two runs of the GS race, MARA head coach Ryan Rector was barbequing and serving up lunch to all the athletes and families.

“There was a huge turnout by the MARA club members,” said Rector. “We had twice as many racers than last year’s event.”
The fastest times of the day for both men and women were skied by MARA standouts. Molly MacGraw, sporting a race skirt, turned in a combined time of 1:16.85. Michael Bansmere, racing in retro ‘80’s gear, had the overall winning time of 1:10.47.

“Mike is skiing out of his mind right now,” said Rector. “He has the chance to be the best in the West.”

Both athletes are to compete at Mount Bachelor in the Western Junior Alpine Championships this week. Other MARA athletes will conclude their racing season by competing in Northwest championship races at Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor.

Andy Atkinson can be reached at andya@roguephoto.net. See his work at www.roguephoto.smugmug.com.