No one is exactly sure just how long the famous-among-locals Tirebiters St. Patrick's Day ski race has been going on but the general consensus is that it started sometime in the early 1970s. And, after nearly 50 years, the quietly popular race and awards party is still going strong.
This year's race will take place at Mary Jane on Friday, March 15, and after the 100 local adult racers have completed their two runs, the informal group of "greened up" competitors in their St. Paddy's day attire, head into the Club Car restaurant for a traditional Irish holiday dinner - corned beef and cabbage and lots of Irish libations and shenanigans.
Dreamed up by long-time Fraser Valley resident Bob Singley, the goal was to organize a light-hearted ski event that could also serve as a fundraiser for local middle and high school students.
"Back then, the Winter Park racing programs were dominated by Denver kids and our local kids were sort of being left out so this was a way for a bunch of us to get together in a very informal way, have some fun, and raise a bit of money to support the ski programs at the local junior high and high school," Singley explains.
The donation isn't annual and contributions to the school programs are made only after all the bills have been paid but every few years, a substantial amount is given to both schools. Over the years, the funds have been used to purchase downhill helmets, cross-country equipment, rapid gates for training, and registration fees for ski camps for some students. Last year's donation was $3,900.
"The competition is very informal because everyone wanted to do something that wasn't really serious back then," recalls Singley. "We wanted to have fun and do something that benefited the local kids and we've been doing it ever since."
Entry fee is $25 and includes two runs in the age class competition with men's and women's divisions and the party at the Club Car. Racers can register the day of the race in the Mary Jane cafeteria between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.