Last weekend marked the 28th annual running of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl, in the idyllic seaside town of Camden, Maine. Camden’s harbor and hillsides are well known as world class summer and fall attractions, but year-round residents know that winter is perhaps one of their town’s best kept secrets. The Camden Snow Bowl, located on Ragged Mountain in the Camden Hills State Park, represents a tremendous community asset, where school buses deposit kids for after school skiing, locals enjoy Friday night ski racing, and everyone can appreciate the breathtaking beauty of the only ski mountain in the East which boasts a view of the ocean. The U.S. National Toboggan Championship is the highlight of the winter season, attracting intrepid racers from all over the world to test the quality of their traditional wooden toboggans as they sail down the chute onto the ice of Hosmer Pond.
This year, 365 teams competed in the championship. Brave teams of two, three, or four members rode their toboggans down the 400-foot wooden chute reaching speeds upwards of 45 miles per hour to be deposited on the frozen Hosmer Pond among cheering spectators. The festivities resemble a tailgating atmosphere as revelers drink beer around small bonfires on the ice and vendors in tents sell refreshments. Many teams wear costumes or have tongue-in-cheek names making this small-town tradition a real winter gem.
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