Guest Author - Carol Viau
What do you get when you combine alpine race gates with jumps, side hills, a ditch, skiers and snowboarders? The Dickís Ditch banked slalom! This race happens once a year at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and it comes alive March 6th and 7th.
Dickís ditch was initially named after a ski patroller, Dick Porter. In 1966 he was caught and buried in an avalanche. Due to a large air pocket he survived, despite being buried for 55 minutes!
It isnít very often that races take place in a ditch, let alone one with a lot of twist and turns. The course designers add to the challenge by putting in jumps. The entire course is well marked with blue dye to help the racers, as it is hard for them to see far ahead on this course.
Racers are encouraged to inspect the course beforehand. They are allowed to sideslip through it (which is sliding your skis or board sideways). Typically, the racers will be checking out the jumps and for the best line to ski to get the down the course as fast as possible. It would take too long to allow each racer to ski the course one at a time before the race. With 150 competitors, time is of the essence. The group course inspection helps speed up the process.
As with probably any race at a ski area these days, helmets are required for all racers. The course is open for inspection only on Friday, March 5th. The first race run will take place Saturday, March 6th. Those who place in the top 70% will get another run on Sunday in the final round.
There are numerous race divisions for this race, such as; Pro, Masters (over 30), Amateur (20-29), Amateur (14-19) and Groms (11-13). There are also ski and snowboard divisions for all of the above and Menís and Womenís divisions. No one should feel left out!
The best prizes, however, are in the Pro division. First place gets $600, second place $350, and third place $150. Good money for a day on the slopes! There are also additional prizes and raffle gifts given away at the awards ceremony.
This race is as fun to watch an Olympic event. It has similar features to the skier cross and border cross, but only one racer at a time is on the course. Who knows, a race like this might just end up in the Olympics some day!
Check out the link below to see a quick video of it on YouTube.