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Dummies will start flying soon at SOU

You can expect snow on the Southern Oregon University campus Monday — at least on the grass near Stevenson Union.

Several truckloads of snow will be hauled to the SOU campus for Snow Fiesta, a ski and snowboard competition set for Monday at 2 p.m. It's part of a weeklong series of events at SOU and the Mount Ashland ski area that will mark the beginning of Skiesta, Mount Ashland's annual party to mark the approach of spring.

"The main idea is to get students excited about going to the mountain for skiing and snowboarding," said Ryan Green, an SOU senior who works with the university's Outdoor Program.

The Snow Fiesta emerged after the ski area worked with some SOU business students last year to develop a strategy for encouraging students to ski and snowboard at Mount Ashland. The ski area will be giving away promotional coupons for discount lift tickets for groups of three or four students who visit the mountain together. There will also be discount coupons for lift ticket/equipment rental packages, and discounts on drinks.

"Skiesta started as an SOU event," Rick Saul, the ski area's marketing director, noted. "The college was interested in getting re-involved with it."

Skiesta typically marks the beginning of discounted lift ticket prices that continue until the end of the season. Saul said Wednesday that the ski area hasn't finished all the details for Skiesta, but he said the prices would be announced next week.

The college will send a DJ to the mountain Thursday to spin tunes during twilight skiing, and several vans of students will make the pilgrimage to the snow. There will also be a DJ on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Skiesta.

On Tuesday students will be making entries for the dummy downhill race scheduled for March 7 at 2 p.m. on the slope behind the lodge. Students' dummies will be judged for prizes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The annual dummy race usually brings out imaginative creations from ski-area employees, local businesses and anybody else with enough extra time and creativity to get excited about doing something silly.

The dummies get their one chance at fame when they're tossed down a ramp, go airborne and, hopefully, meet a spectacular end.

Saul said the winner will be judged 50 percent on the creativity of the design and 50 percent on the carnage at impact. Some fly so far that the ski area has to put up netting to keep them from flying down the hill and disappearing into the trees.

It might be worth putting together an entry. First prize is a season pass for the 2009-10 season.

Want to try new gear for free?

Demo Day is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you want to try a new pair of skis or a new board, this is your chance to do it without going to a shop, signing the rental agreement, and hauling it back at the end of the day. Reps from Libtech, Gnu and Never Summer will be showing off their wares, along with the crews from Rossignol and Nordica. Medford's Black Bird Shopping Center will be there too, and the Ashland Outdoor Store will bring a load of toys for the telemark and alpine touring set.

If you plan to test drive anything, make sure to carry your driver's license or a credit card. The manufacturers don't let you test their groovy new stuff without some assurance you'll bring it back.

There will be raffle tickets on sale to benefit the ski patrol, and if you buy a ticket, you get a free hotdog. Look for the tent near the parking lot.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or bkettler@mailtribune.com.