CAMDEN — After being grounded in 2021 due to the pandemic, the 31st edition of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships proved a tale of two distinctly-different, weather-related days — one warm, wet and slow and the other icy cold, crisp and fast.

No matter, as hundreds of racers and fans had a blast during the 2022 version of the popular three-day event and times improved on Sunday, Feb. 13 as champions were crowned at the Camden Snow Bowl.

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Racers adapted to temperatures in the mid-to-high-40s on Saturday, Feb. 12 and low-20s on Sunday. The event was held Friday through Sunday, Feb. 11-13.

The two- and three-person racers completed qualifying runs on Saturday, while the four-person racers made their first qualifying runs on Saturday afternoon and second qualifying runs on Sunday morning. Then the finalists in all divisions competed for coveted handmade, one-of-a-kind, mahogany trophies and bragging rights on Sunday afternoon.

After slower times due to water and friction on Saturday, the fastest racers made it down the chute and onto Hosmer Pond in less than nine seconds during Sunday’s final runs.

The unique race event always is fun for its thrill rides, as well as creative team names and costumes, and draws thousands of outdoor enthusiasts.

There were expected to be more than 400 race teams and more than 1,200 participants for the weekend.

There were 110 two-person teams, 110 three-person teams, 170 four-person teams and six experimental teams registered for the event.

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

The top racers in each division, along with the special-prize winners, were:

Four-person – 1, Whiskey On Ice 4 (Jon Maxcy, Greg Davis, David Lorentzen, Mike Lorentzen), 8.53 first run and 8.57 second run for 17.1 overall time; 2, Whiskey On Ice (Jon Maxcy, Josh Brow, Joel Perry, Ted Seely), 8.56 and 8.56 for 17.12; and 3, Hell Freezes Over (Brian Prichard, Andrew Aprill, Sal Bonetti, Joe Warwick), 8.6 and 8.63 for 17.23.

Three-person – 1, Whiskey On Ice 3 (Jon Maxcy, Josh Brow, Steven Lorentzen), 8.51 and 8.61 and 17.12; 2, Sliding Dirty (Logan Grubbs, Walter Gray, Russell Sherman), 8.63 and 8.58 for 17.21; and 3, Splittin’ Adams (Adam Way, Kevin Kempton, Adam Thurlow), 8.65 and 8.61 and 17.26.

Two-person — 1, Two Whiskeys On Ice (Jon Maxcy, Josh Brow), 8.6 and 8.67 for 17.27; 2, Farm Fry Or Die (Jay McCrum, Christine Whitmore), 8.65 and 8.7 for 17.35); and 3, Two Wingnuts (Jim Jefferson, Jon Mitchell), 8.6 and 8.82 for 17.42.

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Experimental — 1, Magic Carpet (Dan Littlefield, Jeff Smith, Zeb Hills, Elliot Freeman), 8.58 and 8.56 for 17.14.

Fastest All-Female Team — Shear Madness (Sarah Maxcy, Amanda Overlock, Jerika Obar), 8.52.

Fastest Student Team — 1, Locust Pocus of North Haven Community School (Odin Corson, Cyrus Brown, Antonin Pringorum, Sophie Hansen), 9.18.

Oldest Team — 1, Frogs On A Log 2 (William Woodruff, age 76, Peter Spencer, age 83), 79.5 average age.

Best-Crafted Toboggan — 1, Cherry With A Touch of Ash (Doug Fagley, Jon Fagley, Mike Jones).

Best Costume — 1, COVID Hostages (Patricia Ritchie, Catherine Briggs, Lori Biagini); 2, Shear Madness 3 As The Golden Girls (Sarah Maxcy, Melanie Brow, Amanda Overlock, Jerika Obar); and 3, Funkadelic Flamingo Flyers (Tammie Ahmadieh, Mary Bumiller, Maile Buker, Marianne Neass).

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

On Saturday, competitors were greeted with unseasonably warm and relatively slow conditions on the first racing day of the championships, but the pace of trips down the chute changed dramatically with much colder conditions on Sunday.

The more than 400 teams for the event, which returned after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, still enjoyed  trips down the historic and fabled 400-foot wooden chute, albeit, not so much the slushy conditions on Hosmer Pond. However, on Sunday, colder temperatures meant the return of faster, smoother rides in the chute and on the pond.

With temperatures in the upper-40s on Saturday, the trips down the track were a bit slower than when cold, crisp conditions are available to keep the chute properly iced and fast.

In any case, the popular wintertime event drew large crowds and plenty of wet-and-wild treks down the chute for the two- , three- and four-person teams, along with the experimental group.

The event began on Friday and concluded on Sunday, with second qualifying runs for four-person teams and the finals for the top-40 two- and three-person teams, top-50 four-person teams and top 25 percent of the experimental teams.

On Saturday, the two- and three-person teams took one or two runs and the fastest time was used to determine if the team finished among the top 40 and moved on to Sunday’s finals.

The first day of racing was overcast until about 2 p.m., when the sun came out, but the chute stayed “under cover” of shade. The sleds barely reached 25 miles per hour (when cold and no water friction, speeds can reach 40 mph). On Saturday, the most common speed range was 17 to 24 mph, which made for slower times. There were some 32-34 mph teams, but the conditions made it harsh.

Many sleds barely had enough momentum — and too much water resistance — to make it to the end of the chute, and most crept over the finish line.

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Officials packed the end of the chute with snow to keep things moving, but as that melted, and Hosmer Pond surface ice melted, it created a sort of splash/log flume effect for the riders when they hit the end of the chute, or came onto the pond.

There were fewer cold racers and more water-soaked riders on the first day. But conditions improved on Sunday with more seasonably cold temperatures and tobogganers, in turn, flew down the chute and onto the pond.

As usual, the popular costume parade was held in Tobogganville about noon on Saturday.

The special categories included best among female, students (ages 12-18) and oldest (average age) teams, as well as best-crafted toboggan.

With the ongoing pandemic, COVD-19-related protocols were put in place for the event. Masks were required inside buildings.

Experimental teams run a non-traditional toboggan that can be heavier than 50 pounds, made of other materials like carbon fiber and have a non-regulation curl or slats.

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

The event kicked off on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 8 a.m. with the two- and three-person divisions taking the first of two runs. After a lunch break, the four-person teams had their opportunity to take a run in the qualifying round, and the group took second qualifying runs on Sunday morning, Feb. 13, beginning at 9 a.m.

By noon on Sunday, there was a list of teams that qualified for the finals, and racing picked up again with each division taking two runs for combined times that determined winners.

Scene from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Photo by Holly Vanorse Spicer

Winners took home handmade, one-of-a-kind, mahogany trophies and swag from sponsors.

The event, a significant fundraiser for the Snow Bowl, has been held annually for three decades, triumphing over weather challenges, and warm temperatures. The only time the event was sidelined was last year, due to restrictions during the height of the pandemic. The race committee met trying to determine a way forward, and still be able to hold the event in some capacity, but, ultimately, put it on pause.

The event was conceived in 1991 as a mid-winter lark and way to celebrate the rebuilding of the historic 400-foot wooden toboggan chute, which originally was constructed by community volunteers in the 1930s. The event has grown to become an important economic engine for the Midcoast, as it brings thousands of racers and spectators to Camden and surrounding areas during the winter season.

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