Cardboard derby races give thrills from riders' spills

Special to the Union Leader
March 18. 2013 8:20PM
King Pine Ski Area employees made this beautiful dragoness. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)

MADISON -- The sight was a common one at Sunday's King Pine Cardboard Derby: A racing sled zooms down the slope and into an orange safety fence. Not to worry: The little girl with the ski helmet seemed to be fine as she was escorted away to be checked by medical staff.

The thrills were a constant, if sometimes unintentional result at the annual race at East Madison's King Pine Ski Area. The event celebrates the skills of those who craft creative downhill rides, and the skills of those who can manage to make it down the slope in one piece.

The young girl appeared to be just a bit shaken, but was part of one of the more spectacular crashes, in which the cardboard racer had good momentum coming out of the gate, but swerved sideways. The box was stopped by a bright orange mesh fence that kept onlookers safe from flying bits of cardboard after crashes.

There were more than a few racers who didn't finish, and a number of those whose snow vehicles lacked adequate steering found themselves spilled onto the race course. Not to worry, though, as it still counted if the derby entry made it over the finish line without riders, or if it were pulled over the line by contestants in a last-ditch effort to complete the race.

The crowd was awed by the 23-foot dragon with green-and-white scales made from paper plates. The dragon was very durable, and well-steered, but those qualities slowed it down and there was plenty of time to watch is come down the slope.

Not so with many of the smaller racers. One cardboard creation made it down and over the speed bumps in record time, flipping over one racing official as it sped past and into the fence.

First, second and third prizes were awarded in two categories, two-person sleds and four-person sleds. Points were awarded for speed, style - overall look, creativity and theme - and durability.

The derby is an annual event, and coincided with St. Patrick's Day this year. Racers are built out of cardboard and held together with duct tape and glue. No wood, metal or plastic is allowed.

A list of the winners is available on the ski area's website.

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