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Cardboard, Paint and Duct Tape


Life may be more about the journey than the destination, but time trials are another story. It doesn’t matter how you finish, only that you do finish. While Iowans were able to survive last week’s snowpocolypse, this Saturday, at Sleep Hollow Sports Park, it’s about conquering it. Lace up your boots and slip into some snow pants because it’s time to hit the slopes — cardboard-style.

Sleds and competitors of all varieties will have their building and “other” skills on display at the Morning Moose Downhill Derby

Sleds and competitors of all varieties will have their building and “other” skills on display at the Morning Moose Downhill Derby

“Over six years ago, a few of us on the LAZER staff were brainstorming ideas on what could be a fun event that our Morning Moose show could have fun with, and the concept of the Downhill Derby was born,” said Rob Lembke, promotions director. “Each year we get about 60-70 sleds. So far we look to be on pace to match that average.”

When it comes to sled design, the first thing participants should consider is the overall goal. If it’s building a likeness of The Gruesome Twosome in the Creepy Coupe, speed may have to be forfeited — and probably overall mobility, too.

“The thickness and the style of the cardboard can help you either build a fast sled or help it look better for the most creative category,” said Lembke. “Some people get creative with the cardboard though.”

Those shooting for the Most Creative Sled award — and a VIP Linkin Park Experience including tickets to the show, backstage tour and chance to meet the band — are judged on everything form the uniqueness of the design and how detailed it is from use of cardboard, duct tape and paint, as well as participation from the participants with the theme of their sled.

“We’ve had people get very detailed with spray paint artwork, use of multiple colors of duct tape, and even create sleds that require a flatbed trailer to haul as a way to try and win this category,” Lembke said.

Speed is another story. There is no one-size-fits-all template. Each year weather conditions are different, affecting the pack of the snow and the amount of ice that’s formed beneath the top layer. And while adding weight might help, it can also slow a sled down or cause it to fall apart before the finish line.

“Those that have put up the fastest times are usually the ones which were created to get a fast start down the hill but not lose speed until they cross the finish line,” said Lembke. “We’ve seen sleds that were no larger than a skeleton sled, as well as sleds that were larger than a canoe, take the fastest sled category.”

There’s really only one main rule to this contest, and that’s keeping your sled to three materials: cardboard, paint and duct tape. Period.

“This is event has become a fun outing for family or just a group of friends,” Lembke said. “A lot of participants have done this before and are out to best their time from the previous year. We also see a lot of people come out who didn’t event create a sled as all they want to do is see the sleds and watch them race.

“The ability to win $500 cash from Mediacom Careers or a pair of VIP Linkin Park tickets from Ted’s Body shop on top of other great consolation prizes courtesy of Wrench & Go is also a nice incentive to stop out.” CV

5th Annual Morning Moose Downhill Derby
Sleepy Hallow Sports Park on Jan. 17 starting at 9 a.m.
Pre-Register here:
Or arrive between 9-10 register on site.


David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

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