What goes up must come down and, in most cases, the quicker the better.
Yes, the law of gravity will be utilized to its fullest capacity next weekend as skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, sledders and dummys will try to navigate a series of courses at Eaglecrest Ski Area to stake claim as winners of the first-ever High Gravity Games.
The games are a celebration of 25 years of business for the Alaskan Brewing Co. and Ashley Johnston, communications manager for the brewery, said organizers could think of nothing more fitting than a team-oriented race to commemorate the occasion.
“The road to the brewery’s initial incorporation as a business was truly a community-based race to the finish,” she said.
As the story goes, the owners Marcy and Geoff Larson, raced the clock to get money from 88 Alaskan investors to the bank before deadline in order to make their business dreams a reality.
“We wanted to put together a fund raising race-style event that commemorated that dash to the bank 25 years ago and celebrated everyone throughout Alaska who supported the brewery then and ever since,” Johnston said. “We couldn’t think of anywhere better to host a local outdoor event in March than at our local mountain.”
Hence, the games kick off at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Leading off will be a relay organizers have dubbed the Start-up Cup which consists of four legs and five people. One team member will navigate an alpine course full of banked turns and jumps. They’ll then hand off to a Nordic leg. That participant will speed around a 2-kilometer portion of the Nordic loop, while at the same time trying to earn bonus points for the most outrageous costume. From there, a snowshoer takes the baton through an all uphill snowshoe course. A designated “Snow Shoe Strut Zone” will be marked on the course giving participants an opportunity to earn points for best strut. The final, and quite possibly most interesting, part of the relay is the Sled Humans section. Here, two team members must successfully tow a sled, carrying either two 88-pound “Barley Bags” or the snowshoe racer, through several turns and “passes.”
“Our goal with the relay race was to create a fun event for people of all snow skills and abilities, with time bonuses for costumes and style,” Johnston said. “This is also a great event for spectators since the handoffs, and two of the legs, will be viewable from the lodge.”
The relay will be followed by a keg toss, where participants will see how far they can throw the top-half of a keg.
“It’s actually more like a keg discus,” Johnston said. “It is the top eight inches of a pony keg.”
A full keg of Alaskan brew will be awarded to the winner.
And finally, the activities will wrap up with spin off an Eaglecrest tradition organizers are calling the Crash Cooled Dummy contest. Participants will create a non-human, Alaskan beer-themed dummy that will be sent careening down the mountain on either skis, snowboard or a sled. The highest points will be awarded to the dummy with the best crash, creativity, distance and airtime.
Johnston said a panel of local “experts” from the community will be on hand to judge each of the events.
Awards for top finishers will be provided by a number of local businesses who have donated some big prizes, Johnston said. Donators include Wings Airways/ Taku lodge, Era helicopters, TEMSCO, Northstar Trekking and Perseverance Theater — to name a few. In addition, local artist and Alaskan brew crew member, Rachael Juzeler is creating some one-of a-kind awards for the top three finishers of each event.
Yes, fun is sure to be in abundance. But Johnston said the event aims to go above and beyond just a good time. All funds raised at the event will go toward Hospice & Home Care of Juneau.
“Each year, our entire crew votes to select a local nonprofit that receives all of the tips from our gift shop tasting bar and our other fund raising efforts,” she said. “This year, the crew selected Hospice & Home Care of Juneau. We look forward to supporting their generous work with this and other fund raising events throughout the rest of the year.”
Other event highlights will include live music by the Great Alaskan Bluegrass Band, an Alaskan beer garden hosted by Marlitinis, a special aprés ski menu at Eaglecrest Lodge and $5 discounts on lift tickets for anyone who rides wearing Alaskan Brewing logoed gear. In addition, the snowbus will be on an extended schedule to offer rides to and from the downtown transit center.
Registration for the Start-up Cup costs $75. Early registration deadline is Saturday, Feb. 26. Late registration will be accepted all the way up until the start of the race and costs $88. Organizers, however, are encouraging participants to sign up early to ensure a well-run event.
For full registration details and event rules, download a registration packet here, or online at alaskabeer.com or skijuneau.com. Participants in the races or competitions must be 21 years of age, or older, on race day. However, anyone is welcome to spectate.
“We’ve have had so much fun putting this event together with everyone at Eaglecrest,” Johnston said. “And this event is our way of thanking everyone that has supported Alaskan Brewing for the last quarter century.”
• Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at email@example.com.