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Poles and Clubs

Subaru Race and Ace event mixes sand traps and slalom turns

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Some things go well together: chocolate and milk, belly shirts and rollerblades ... others don't: Chuck Norris and tears, Dick Cheney and guns. As far I was concerned, skiing and golf were in the latter group—not because they aren't both fun, but because they are done at different times of the year. The only reason they might be thought of together is that while you're doing one you are probably lying to your buddies about the other. Like when you're going up a ski lift letting the whole mountain know that your average is four under, or while you're warming up your swing, you're bragging that the local mountains aren't steep enough for the way you like to ride. But that's all changing. Ladies and gentlemen, snowbunnies and chili-dippers, I give you the Subaru Race and Ace competition, a contest melding a ski/snowboard slalom race and an 18-hole golf tournament.

The Race and Ace event has only been around for a few years and this will be its first year in the Gem State. It all started as an off-the-cuff way for Doug Fish, founder of Fish Marketing, and his college buddies to spend a Saturday. "Doug and his friends used to go over to Mt. Bachelor in the spring and spend the morning skiing and the afternoon golfing," said Nate Parr, race coordinator for Fish Marketing. "It wasn't long before a light went off in Doug's head and he came up with the idea of having a competition that brought together skiing and golfing." The inaugural Race and Ace event was in 2003 at Mt. Bachelor and Sunriver Resort in Central Oregon. That first competition was a hole-in-one and since then, the event has spread to Washington—at The Summit at Snoqualmie and The Golf Club at Newcastle—and now, Tamarack Resort in Idaho. Parr attributes the event's success to not only the fun factor of the race, but also the funky juxtaposition of skiing (competitors can also snowboard) and golfing—two endeavors that are actually easy to combine at Tamarack. "We're excited to have an event in Idaho," said Parr. "Tamarack is great because you can almost ski to the golf course."

OK, so you get the gist of it: Folks can take some gnarly turns on the freshy fresh pow-pow and then tap in a few knee-knockers for par all in the same day. So how do the organizers manage to pull off this event logistically?

"Racers show up the night before to pick up their stuff and make sure they are set," said Parr. "PartyPoker.com, one of our sponsors, holds a free Texas hold-em tournament and there are plenty of free hors d'oeuvres and drinks." (With poker games going on and free beer and food, I wonder how much pre-race rest competitors actually get?)

The next morning, bright and early, racers show up on the mountain for their ski or snowboard runs on the slalom course. Racers each get two runs and their times are averaged together. "Snowboarders and females get a 5 percent handicap," said Parr. (And those handicaps are combinable, which means that if you are a girl snowboarder and you come in 9.9 percent slower than the winning male skier, you still win.)

After the two runs on the snow, would-be Danny Noonans convene on the golf course for a crack at the grand prize. Race organizers even supply you with your own caddy. (Just make sure to give them something for their effort.) If you happen to get a hole-in-one, the cost of having to buy everyone a round back at the clubhouse is offset by the fact that you will be driving home in a new Subaru. (Where is Rodney Dangerfield's computerized golf club when you really need it?) After 18 holes, the competitors head to an awards ceremony for a great dinner and to pick up their prizes and/or schwag.

"There is over $20,000 worth of gifts and prizes at the events," said Parr. "The odds of a competitor going home with something cool are pretty high. In fact, each competitor automatically gets over 300 bucks worth of stuff when they enter—that is more than the cost of registration." If you are a good skier, but a hacker on the course, team up with your buddy who has a good swing.

Competitors can enter in one of several categories: 1) elite individual, 2) two-person teams, or 3) four-person teams. The prizes for the category winners aren't plastic trophies either; they are original paintings by David Wachs. "Another cool thing about the event is that it gets recorded and televised on Fox Sports," said Parr.

After talking with Parr for a bit, I started to wonder. Who enters this kind of event? "Typically we see a lot of 35- to 50-year-old males—lawyers, doctors, real estate guys. Sometimes we'll see a younger set that can be pretty aggressive about winning, which keeps things exciting," said Parr. When I asked about female competitors, Parr responded, "Actually, we have seen a lot of women entries for the Tamarack event, which is cool."

The Race and Ace event has not been without its ringers. Bryan Paligo, a former U.S. Ski Team racer, has won both of last two years at the Oregon event. (Golf claps.) On May 6, he will compete for his third straight win in Oregon. Parr was doubtful that Paligo will show up for the Idaho event, but that doesn't mean the competition won't be rough.

The Subaru Race and Ace competition is slated for May 20 at Tamarack, and judging from typical May weather conditions in central Idaho, my guess is the only thing you may be changing that day is your footwear. That means you can golf in your new madras ski-bibs with your amber tinted goggles.

Registration for 2006 Subaru Race and Ace at Tamarack ends May 6. For more information or to enter, visit www.raceandace.com.

Questions? Comments? E-mail sports@boiseweekly.com.