Cardboard Classic to be held Saturday

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— Have you been stocking up on duct tape? It might come in useful this weekend.

Steamboat Springs residents have four days to tape together walls of cardboard in the shape of a bus, a truck, a boat or an even more creative vehicle, and enter the annual rite of spring, the 2003 Cardboard Classic.

According the rules for the 22nd annual event, racers can only use cardboard, glue, string, water-based paint, duct and masking tape.

Though wet, sticky spring snow on Headwall turns most crafts into soggy piles of flaking cardboard by the finish line, the fun is not so much winning as it is creating your craft.

And now, while the crafts are under construction, the bigger race may be the one to the recycling containers around town for cardboard.

Waste Management on Downhill Drive has a large waste bin for recycling cardboard. Community recycling bins are also in the parking lot behind the Cantina Mexican Restaurant and behind the Steamboat Springs Police Department. Residents can also call the Steamboat Ski Area at 871-5472.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. employee Issac Abernathy had access to the recycled mountains of cardboard produced by Steamboat's restaurants and shops. With several co-workers from Base Area Services, Abernathy built a Viking ship from slick-surface helmet boxes.

The craft has already been on a late-night test run and stayed intact, Abernathy said.

The secret, he said, is a lot of duct tape.

"But I can't say for sure how well we will do," he said. "This is our first year."

Registration for the Cardboard Classic takes place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Judging runs from noon to 1 p.m. Before the race, crafts will be lined up along the Headwall course, rally style, so that audience members and judges can check them out before they are destroyed in the race. Awards go to the actual craft construction and not to the placement on the finish line.

"It's a very festive atmosphere," Ski Corp. Public Relations Coordinator Riley Polumbus said.

The race begins at 1:30 p.m.

"The race is a fun way of destroying what you created," Polumbus said.

Polumbus built a cardboard craft in 2000, her first year in Steamboat. "We made a little Land Cruiser replica," she said.

The secret to getting all the way down the hill is to have a craft with a waxed bottom, she said. They painted the craft in a team member's living room.

"The fun part was getting it out from the stairwell," she said. "We put it on top of his vehicle. I wish the judges had seen our arrival with a Landy on top of a Landy. Maybe we would have won."

Though they didn't win, she said, "this is a great way to spend some time with friends doing something you did when you were kids, except on a bigger scale."

Cardboard crafts are judged in five categories: most creative, best individual craft, potpourri and best reproduction of a person, place or thing. All entrants will be entered in a drawing for a 2003-04 season pass.

In 22 years as a springtime event, the Cardboard Classic has evolved from a free-for-all to a more organized, regulated race.

KFMU has sponsored the event on and off since its early years.

"It used to be really wild and woolly," KFMU DJ D.K. Landers said. "The race ended up in the parking lot of Thunderhead and there was a beer truck parked right there.

"It was a sanctioned event, but let's just say that in the earlier days, it was borderline out of control and way, way fun."

In 1981, Landers made a cardboard craft with friends, but "it self-destructed almost immediately," she said. "I think it made it about two feet before it blew apart."

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