Downhill feats of daring
Sled designs include barn, boot and rockets
'Triple Threat' team Skyler Boyd, 15, Baylee Crawford, 16, and Kaylea Niles, 16, whip down the Cardboard Classic course at Berkshire East in Charlemont on Sunday. The girls came in third place in the competition with a time of 6.02 seconds.
Liam Hayden, 3, covers his eyes as the "SS Amazing" starts to make its way down the Berkshire East Cardboard Classic course on Sunday. He and is father, Jack Hayden, 45, made it down the hill without incident.
The last little racer of the day runs his sled across the Berskhire East Cardboard Classic finish line on Sunday to the applause and cheers of onlookers after taking a spill a little higher up the course.
Amber Merrits, 14, Hannah Macleod, 15, Sarah Beckwith, 3, and another woman skid across the finish line at the Berkshire East Cardboard Classic on Sunday.
CHARLEMONT — Under most circumstances a barn sliding downhill would be considered a bad thing. To judge by the expression on the sheep’s face, it was.
The barn, livestock included, was one of 62 cardboard constructions sliding down the last 100 feet or so of Berkshire East Ski Area’s main slope in the annual Cardboard Classic on Sunday, all to cheers but with varying degrees of success. A 6-foot ski boot packed with three adults shot down the hill to finish against the pads with legs sticking out in all directions. Many of the smaller sleds bogged down half-way and had to be pushed or dragged over the finish line by their crews. In the case of the younger pilots, these had to be carried as well.
Cindy and Patrick Donahue from Charlemont built the barn, which went on to win a local radio station’s design award despite some unfortunate losses early in the day while transporting the roughly 6-foot barn.
“It’s been out on the road twice,” Patrick Donahue said. “We had three more feet with a yard and a fence.”
Cindy Donahue said she works at the Hawlemont School and the barn was partly in honor of next year’s agriculture program. The couple have participated in the Cardboard Classic for eight years.
“It’s a tradition with us, it’s fun. You see everybody you know, we have rivalry with this gentleman right here,” Cindy Donahue said, indicating Charlemont Selectman Vaughn Tower, 50.
Tower, with daughter Nora and her friend Autumn Smith, both 15, other daughter Danaige Tower, 24, and her boyfriend Jason Rotkiewicz, 24, of South Deerfield, staffed a fleet of one tow truck and one outsized ski boot. The ski boot won the Berkshire East design award, tying the rivalry for the afternoon.
“We’re on spring break, so why not build a cardboard sled?” Danaige Tower said. The elder Towers and Rotkiewicz packed into the boot for a surprisingly fast slide that had the crowd of friends, family and distracted skiers cheering and snapping photos.
Entries included spaceships, a guitar piloted by Leonardo Franceschi, 10, of South Deerfield; Snoopy atop his dog house as the Red Baron, piloted by Seamus Collins, 5, of Greenfield; a Viking ship, several rockets and sled-shaped sleds.
The Chadwick entry tended toward the basic: a small sled on top of a tape-slathered cardboard sheet.
“Yeah, ’cause it was a last-minute thing. Our granddaughter was here from L.A. and she talked us into it,” said Joe Chadwick, 60, of Shelburne Falls.
The Mohawk track coach piloted the sled with Sophia Chadwick, 3 1/ 2 and apparently unfazed by the less-than-California temperature.
Sean Kurek, 4, of Adams, and his cousin Eli Todd, 5, won the overall award in a detailed and surprisingly sturdy miniature replica of the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee car.
“Our 4-year-old said he wanted the General Lee car,” said Amanda Frank of Adams explaining the choice. He got the General Lee car.
Alisha and Christopher Reynolds, both 18 of Whitingham, Vt., won in the speed category with a time of 5.56 seconds.
Charlie Tormanen won the employee award, and Anna Zera, 1, and Alina Smarowski, 12, of Sunderland won the best costume award as Thing 1 and Thing 2.
All entrants made it safely to the bottom of the hill, despite a few spectacular cardboard failures. The barn was not among these, despite its square construction. The cardboard sheep nevertheless maintained an expression of terror. “Sheep normally do,” said Patrick Donahue.
You can reach Chris Curtis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 257