Twin Cities skiers and riders know how to enjoy a little competition. Buck Hill, for example, has a "Thursday Throwdown Snowboard Series." The six-week series is composed of two weeks each for big air, halfpipe, and rails. Since points accumulate from event to event, and winners are determined by total points, the series rewards all-around skills.
There is no charge to participate, aside from having a lift ticket. Competitors are grouped by age: 12 and under, 13 to 15, and 16 and over. Though girls as well as boys are free to compete, few girls do.
The winner in each age bracket wins a new snowboard, courtesy of Zombie Boardshop and Cal-Surf. The top three finishers each night receive a "medal," with the top finisher in each bracket receiving a more substantial set of goodies.
The on-the-snow activities start at 7:00 p.m. Each age group has 15 minutes, and each run is judged on a scale of one to five, with five being awarded for the best of tricks.
If you'd like to watch rather than participate, you still need a lift ticket. I went to tonight's rail event, and the experience confirmed that sometimes the best seat in the house is ... on your couch in front of your TV. Not only do you have replays available, the quality of cameras used by TV networks gives an outstanding definition to the action.
By the way, these sorts of events must be shark-bait for the legal profession. Purchasing a lift ticket obligates a skier or rider to release certain legal claims, but people who participate in these events must sign a specific liability release.