Town Downhill comes to Eaglecrest

Eaglecrest racer. Photo by Randy Bates.

Kids are training and ski racing every weekend at Eaglecrest Ski Area. But when was the last time their parents ran the gates? They’ll get a chance on Saturday at the Town Downhill.

Skiers and snowboarders of just about any age can race in the Giant Slalom, says Juneau Ski Club head coach Dan Ord.

“If you are up there and out of control, if you really can’t ski, we’re going to reserve the right to say this might not be for you,” he says, laughing. “But as far as a 10-year-old kid wanting to challenge his mom or his dad to a race, it’s not going to be a downhill, it’s going to be a GS set on a course, coming down upper Hilary’s, rockin’ through the throat and all the way down lower Hilary’s.”

It’s been years since public races were held at the city-owned ski area. Ed Squibb recalls the three-race Rainier Challenge in the mid-1980s:

“We combined the times of all three races. We started in the West Bowl and went straight down Raven and Log Jam. It was incredibly fast. And we’d usually go down Cheechako and start right under Steep Chutes,” he says. “And then toward the end of the year in the spring we started in the East Bowl, right about were the rope line is. We came through there and under Steep Chutes and down Cheechako. That was a fast one, too.”

The winner of the Challenge got a pair of K2 skis topped with the Rainier beer logo. That’s not the case this year, but there will be prizes (and T-shirts).

Contest categories are ages 10 to 12, 13 to 16, and 17 and over.

Squibb will be setting the course. He says it won’t be a conventional GS; instead, turns will be more open to accommodate snowboarders. He also plans to race.

That means he’ll be competing in the category of 17 and up at age 60-something.

“You can’t get rid of the (race) bug, I guess,” he says.

The race includes two runs – one in the morning and one in the afternoon — with free BBQ in the middle.

Squibb and Ord say they’ve been planning the Town Downhill since early fall and hope it’s the first of an annual public race program at Eaglecrest.