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Racing coach Richard Tichy, Meegan Bombadil and her teammate James Wainwright make the most of brutal conditions on Mount Hood. Photo by Melina Jacklet

Hard-core racers braved some brutal conditions on the West Mile Saturday to add another PACRAT race to a fun but challenging season on Mount Hood.

Visibility was extremely poor for most of the day, and snow coverage was limited. At times racers could see only one or two gates ahead before everything disappeared into a vague cloud of white. PACRAT President Greg Dilger, who suffers from vertigo in white-out conditions, was unable to compete and had to wish the racers luck from inside the lodge.

Still, more than 100 racers from 20 PACRAT teams ripped through the gates, and there were no racing injuries on the day. The dual giant slalom course held up well thanks to frequent slipping by the racers, and even with slushy snow and poor visibility, top racers were able to reach some impressive speeds.

Here is a photo by Melina Jacklet of Peter Dodd, who took first place overall with his best run of 24.27 seconds.

And here is a another shot by Melina that shows women's winner Meegan Bombadil competing against her teammate James Wainwright:

Steve Sarich, pictured below, finished a close second:

Chris Wiley and Ann Russell had a lively showdown in the fog:

So did Geoff Mihalko and Pam Loehner:

It wasn't just a race for the young and super-fast. PACRAT is open to skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels, including my mom Alice Jacklet, who took up racing at the age of 70 and has steadily improved from NASTAR bronzes to silvers to golds, with a little extra bone protection from her lacrosse shoulder pads. Go Mom!

After the race there was a lively party at the 70 Meters Bar and Grill at Multorpor. It was good to see a big apres ski crowd at Skibowl after a tough snow winter where the resort was only able to run chair lifts for a week or so.

PACRAT board member and master of ceremonies Andy Hobart called out a toast "to the worst season ever" and noted, "that was the first time I have ever raced in a cloud." It was clear from the positive crowd response and good-natured banter that this is a crew that makes the most of a challenge, rather than complaining about it.

There is one more PACRAT race on the schedule this season, and anyone interested in joining the league for next year can check out the PACRAT website to find out how to sign up. Two things recreational skiers and boarders might consider in regards to giving racing a try:

  1. No one will ever yell at you to slow down when you are in a race course.
  2. Even when the snow is crummy, racing is a blast.

Here is a slideshow of fifteen photos shot by my daughter Melina and me in the fog on Sunday (slideshows work best when viewed on computers or tablets, rather than phones):

Brenda Ackerson

Top finishers for the men:

And for the women: