Roaming Rob: Tobogganing 

Skiers, snowboarders, and outdoor enthusiasts all flock to the Camden Snow Bowl during the winter months for some fun in the snow. But thousands of spectators gather once every year to see a particular event that involves a one-of-a-kind toboggan chute.“I’m at the Camden Snow Bowl, the site of the National Toboggan Sled Championships and I’m joined right now by Andrew Dailey for the Camden Snow Bowl. Tell us a little bit about the race. How long as this been going on?” “23 years now, Rob.” “23 years. And so, you get a lot of interest. It’s a national race, but a lot of international attention as well?” “We do. We have teams from all over the world, really. London, England this year, the British National Team.” “That’s great! So you’re going to take us over and show us the chute now?” “Absolutely.” “Let’s go.”The Championship continues to grow. This weekend, there are 425 teams entered to compete for bragging rights and hand-crafted toboggan trophies. On top of that, 6 to 8 thousand people are expected to turn out to watch the event and enjoy other festivities in what is known as “Tobogganville.” Many of the townsfolk joke that there will be more people in Tobogganville this weekend than there are in the entire town of Camden.“So here’s the chute Andrew. Let’s talk about some of the stats here: how long is this?” “We have 400ft of pure adrenaline.” “Nice! And I see some of the ice here on the bottom. Roughly how thick is that ice?” “Right now you’re probably looking at about 1/2” to 3/4” of an inch there. For the Nationals, we like to get an inch and a half, maybe close to 2 inches of ice for the actual event.” “When people come flying down this thing, they’re going to go out onto that pond right there?” “Yup, Hosmer Pond.” “And roughly how fast can we expect to be going?” “You’re going to may hit 40-45mph.” “Wow!”To get layers of smooth ice in the chute, Andrew explained that they use a custom Zamboni and a thin layer of plastic at the very bottom to make sure the ice won’t chip and will be able to handle the hundreds of teams that will compete.“So we’re at the top of the chute, I’m getting ready to head down here momentarily, Andrew. But first, I wanted to talk about some of the rules and regulations with these sleds.” “Really, there’s specs you have to go by, that are on our website, for when you’re building a sled. The main thing is the weight: it has to be 50 pounds or less. The other one is that there are runners on the sled or a flat bottom. The runners have to be just a quarter of an inch off that base slat. That’s kind of the main thing.” “But they’re allowed to wax those to get an extra edge?” “Yup, that’s encouraged. Everyone’s got their own recipe.”“So I’m going to head down this. Number one piece of advice for me?” “Keep your arms and legs in and scream really loud.” “Sounds like fun…let’s go!”I took Andrew’s advice as I went flying down the chute. That split-second feeling of having your stomach in your mouth, combined with a rush of adrenaline, was all I needed to understand why these toboggan championships were so popular. Hard to believe, but most of the fastest records for this event are between just 8 and 9 seconds.“Well, there you have it. What an adrenaline rush! We went down several times and each time we went progressively faster and faster. I rode with the defending national champion, Jim Jefferson, and he estimated our last run to be going right around 37 mph. Definitely reminiscent of a roller coaster.”A big thanks to the folks at the Camden Snow Bowl and to WABI-TV5 Photographer Tom Round!For more info on the Camden Snow Bowl, check out their website at