Margaret Hair: Construction best part of Cardboard Classic

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

— Three nights into my Cardboard Classic team's 2009 building extravaganza, we already had sustained our first set of injuries: one cut to the leg, one slice across the top of a finger, several nicks on a hand - all delivered by a very sharp retractable box cutter, and all sustained making the scariest cardboard dragon head I have ever seen.

The rules of the Classic are simple: using only cardboard, glue, string, water-based paint, duct tape, packing tape and masking tape, your team is asked to make something sweet. Ideally, it will move with some speed down a green run at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

At the 2008 event, competing cardboard crafts included a larger-than-life bulldozer, a pirate ship, a "Baywatch" motorboat, a shot-ski, a replica of the stair-car from the cult-hit TV show "Arrested Development," a campground and a Routt County Sheriff's Office patrol car.

My roommates made a big aluminum can. It moved down Preview pretty well for the first 10 feet, then stopped with no signs of picking back up. I think our flaw was constructing cardboard runners to put on the bottom of the sled. With most of the team hailing from the East Coast, we were used to making sleds out of things that are not sleds to play in infrequent winter storms - we were also used to riding on solid sheets of ice, instead of the slush we encountered.

Because we were so impressed by the size and intimidating factors of the 2008 pirate ship sled, the house team this year decided to go with something scary: a dragon complete with wings, a tail, a cardboard exoskeleton, an evil-looking head - spattered with blood from the previously mentioned team injuries - and possibly some painted-on fire.

There's just one thing holding our dragon back from ski area domination: it will be sea-foam green.

You see, paint costs can add up fast, at $15 or more for each gallon. We had a few cans in primary colors left over from last year - no yellow for fire-making, unfortunately - but nothing that could make green.

So we hit the mis-tinted paint section at Ace at the Curve. Our options for dragon-body-coloring boiled down to a salmony peach color or sea-foam. We opted to put faith in our team's ability to construct a dragon so frightening its pastel exterior would be considered a threat of confidence.

With registration scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Saturday, I doubt anyone expects Cardboard Classic to have the rowdy, end-of-season party atmosphere I heard so much about when I moved here. Most likely, the whole thing will be over by 10:15 a.m.

But if you can make it out, Cardboard Classic could be worth the effort, even if it's just to have another excuse to wear a costume in public - we'll be dressed as knights.

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