Casual race atmosphere during Vertical Challenge in Greenwood

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GREENWOOD – There was fun, laughter and a skiing dinosaur at the Vertical Challenge at Mt. Abram ski resort on Sunday, a casual race for all ages.

SnoCountry has been bringing the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge to “Pepsi-pouring” ski resorts from Maine to Pennsylvania for 28 winters, according Program Coordinator Linda Fontaine.

She said the Vertical Challenge first came to Mt. Abram 20 years ago, and took place annually for more than a decade — until the mountain switched their soda products.

They switched back to Pepsi products, however, and this is the Vertical Challenge’s fourth year back.

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The event attracted participants of all ages and skill level.  The top three skiers with the fastest times in each racing class, grouped by age, were invited to the finals at Jay Peak in Vermont in April.

Of the total approximately 110 participants, the three skiers with the fastest times were as follows:

Colby VanDecker, 16, of Oxford with a time of 13.91 seconds, Giff Burnop, 44, of Strafford, New Hampshire with a time of 14.23 seconds, and Conner Jackson, 17, of Auburn with a time of 14.36 seconds.

“It’s festive atmosphere, and we like the family dynamic. It’s consistent with who we are,” said the resort’s general manager, Bob Harkins.

Susan Couley of Boston went to ski with her family, and cheer on her nephew, Caleb Mitchell, 14, of Greenwood, who was skiing in the race.

“We’ve been skiing here as a family for a while, and the event was definitely a draw. Caleb and his buddies can challenge themselves. It’s fun to watch-  they’re all expert skiers in my opinion,” said Couley.

Will Im, 16, of Woolwich, skied in the giant-slalom style race with his best friend, Caleb King, 12, of North Yarmouth, and looked a little out of the ordinary going down the mountain, due to the giant head of his T-rex costume flopping about in the breeze as he made his cautious descent down.

Im said King got him the costume for his birthday in June, and after seeing videos online of other people wearing the costume in numerous public places, he thought the Vertical Challenge would be a good time to try it himself.

“I’m definitely not here for the competition,” said Im. “But it was so hard to see! My little window kept fogging up.”

Danielle King, Caleb’s mother, said the costume attracted quite a fan-base for Im.

“All the little kids were just swarming around him, wanting to get a picture with him. He was like a celebrity,” she said.

The challenge’s crew of 18 began setting up the event, which included music, games, and raffles, at 5:30 Sunday morning.

SnoCountry organizes about 24 events per winter.  

emarquis@sunmediagroup.net

Courtney Larson, who skis with Edward Little High School, takes a run on the Vertical Challenge on Sunday at Mt Abram. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Park Hubbard, 6, from Falmouth, peers down the slope at his father skiing down through the ski race course at Mt Abram on Sunday. Vertical Challenge staff, look down the course are, from the left, Matt Mcguigan, Bryan Hochberg, Ryan Manning. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Park Hubbard, 6, from Falmouth, launches out of the gate to start his run down Vertical Challenge at Mt Abram on Sunday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Will Im, 16, of Woolwich, participated in the Vertical Challenge on Sunday at Mt. Abram, and shredded the slopes in his T-rex costume. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)

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