Each year at the Korbel American Ski Classic, we have a Future Legends Race. The ski racing stars of tomorrow take the Golden Peak race course by storm in a dual Giant Slalom format. The ages of these speedsters varies drastically, however, I don't think any of them can drive (but they all somehow can beat me down the racecourse).
Before the first Future Legends hit the course, we have a mascot race. McGruff the crime dog, Milka the Cow, Dusty the Eagle and a Pork Chop the Safety Swine all go head-to-head in full costume regalia no-holds-bar race to the finish line. After the mascots finish the race, they stick around in the Finish Stadium cheering on the kiddos while handing out a barrage of costumed high fives and hugs.
Sounds easy on paper right? Well... not so much and I'll tell you why. First of all, I am a snowboarder and as such have never raced on a Giant Slalom course. Secondly, and more importantly, these are not small scale costumes. It took three of my VVF co-workers to put my Dusty the Eagle costume on me. It's not a Walmart Halloween costume... the thing takes batteries. Once you finally get your costume on, you receive the pep talk from Operations guy Adam Lueck that goes something like this: "Don't make any human sounds, sometimes children are scared by human sounds from mascots." Then they stick you on a snowmobile and take you to the start house. After you get off the snowmobile and figure out how to put your skis/snowboard on with a two foot tail and giant head, you have about three turns to work out the kinks before you race. It only really takes one turn to realize something very important... you can not see a darn thing with those costumes on. One must actually hold the head of the costume in a very specific orientation to see anything. In my particular instance, it was the beak. Race time. Let's get some.
Bottom line here is that I would gladly do this again and next time I'm going to win (I'm pretty competitive, even when racing as a giant 9 foot tall Eagle). Unfortunately, this time I got smoked by our 19-year-old German intern dressed as Milka the Cow. Right out of the gate, I was convinced I had him beat. When I saw him three gates ahead of me flying through Super G gates like nothing could stop him (he was out of control also I presume), I switched gears. From that moment forward I was only focused on making all the gates and not going down. Lord knows that if I did go down, I probably could not get myself back up without help from others.
In the end, all the mascots made it through the course unscathed and had a great time. The children loved it and aside from losing about 5 pounds due to profuse sweating (those costumes are REALLY hot), it was a great time. Here at the Vail Valley Foundation, we all do things at times that are outside our job description. Case in point - racing down a Giant Slalom course dressed as a Giant Eagle. But how many other people can say they did it?
Who knows, I might even make the Korbel American Ski Classic TV show.
See more photos from the 2011 Korbel American Ski Classic Future Legends Race (and me as an eagle) here: