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'We're off to ski the lizard'

Dorothy will be trading her ruby slippers for a pair of telemark skis Saturday morning on Mount Ashland.

That's where you'll find the 15th annual Screamin' Telelizard Classic, a grand slalom-style race for telemark skiers. In costume.

This year's theme is — you might already have guessed it — The Lizard of Oz.

"I know what my costume will be this year, but I haven't figured out how to make it happen," says Phoebe Quillian. "I've done this race 13 or 14 times, and I always wear a costume."

Quillian, from Talent, is typical of many of the 50 to 70 competitors who show up to race at the Winter run at Mt. A each March.

"I'm an alpine skier, but I don't do alpine races. I like this race: I don't have to take it seriously because I'm in costume," Quillian explains.

Although keeping your costume under wraps before race day is part of the Telelizard culture, race director Zac Kaufman has heard rumors.

"Expect to see a few flying monkeys in addition to the expected Dorothys and scarecrows," says Kaufman. "I know of some folks who are trying to figure out how to do Toto in a basket and still make it skiable."

Each competitor skis the course twice, and the lowest combined time determines the winner.

There is also an award for Best Costume, decided by audience response at the post-race party. Last year's winner was Steve Drabik, whose "Treebeard" costume fit the theme of "Lord of the Lizards."

Awards are also given for Best Air coming off a mogul at the lower end of the course, and for Best Crash. Age-group awards are given for the fastest times — with many age groups for those over 40.

"Telemarking at this race tends to be an over-40 crowd," says Kaufman. "We get a smaller attendance in the younger categories."

Two pairs of skis will be given away as door prizes. All competitors are eligible to win.

Last year, 57 skiers signed up, and it's always a crapshoot trying to figure out how many will show, says Kaufman.

"The tele crowd is a last-minute crowd, spontaneous," he says. "Last-minute registration is always light. We are always affected by weather."

With several feet of new snow in place, Kaufman is hoping for a large turnout.

Pre-registration — which ends today — costs $20, or $32 if you want a race T-shirt. Registration forms are available on the Telelizard website, www.screamintelelizardclassic.com. Fax the completed race form to Mt. Ashland at 541-482-3644.

Day-of-race registration, available from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Mt. Ashland lodge, costs $25; or $37 with a T-shirt. The race begins at 10 a.m.

The Screamin' Telelizard Classic is a benefit for the Special Olympics and is sponsored by the Ashland Outdoor Store, Rogue Ski Shop, Berg Ski Shop and the Oakshire brewery.

For more information, call 541-535-1804, visit www.screamintelelizardclassic.com or try the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/telelizard.

Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org.

Steve Drabik, dressed as Treebeard from “The Lord of the Rings,” cruises down the course during last year's Screamin' Telelizard Classic at Mount Ashland. The theme of year's race, scheduled for tomorrow, is “Lizard of Oz.” - MT file photo