By Jim Stanford on March 16, 2012
The spring-like weather that has pushed temperatures into the 50s this week has been welcome, aside from the rain and softening of the course on Snow King Mountain.
The Jackson Hole Ski Club has been preparing the slope for the 30th annual Town Downhill, aka the Mini-Hahnenkamm. Training runs Saturday may be a little soft, but the forecast is calling for colder weather and snow for Sunday’s racing.
“We’re doing everything we can to get it ready, and now we’re just hoping it freezes,” club director Carrie Boynton said.
The downhill is the centerpiece of a festive St. Patrick’s weekend at the King, with pond skimming on Saturday and the rock band Lazy Eyes performing Sunday. The rapid melt-off should make for excellent conditions for pond skimming. DJs Cut la Whut and Jeff Moran will spin tunes as skiers and riders — no doubt donning kelly green attire — point down the lower slope and try to skim across the water.
Pond skimming runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The downhill begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, with the second run of the pros starting at 2 p.m. Lazy Eyes will play beginning around 1 p.m. and after the awards ceremony, where the winners will divide a $5,000 cash purse.
The club is expecting an “awesome field,” Boynton said, with 171 entries thus far. Racers may register through 5 p.m. today online or at the ski club office at Snow King Center.
“I can’t ever remember it being this warm in mid-March,” Boynton said. Although a couple of dirt patches are showing on the Grizzly run, race organizers inspected the course today and found conditions better than they expected, she said. The steilhang turn generally has thin cover because of its steep pitch, but the chute where pro racers start is looking good.
Downhill racers, most of whom will fly down the mountain and over the pro bump in about a minute, are unlikely to be fazed by whatever conditions Mother Nature throws at them. And, for that matter, neither will pond skimmers.
“It’s going to be a bumping, fun weekend,” Boynton said.
(Photo by Amy Schlinger)