Maryhill Festival of Speed: Four-wheeled crazies compete this week

maryhill loops road is the scene for the annual Maryhill Festival of Speed, which brings downhill skateboarders and lugers from around the world to compete on the pristine roadway.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
maryhill loops road is the scene for the annual Maryhill Festival of Speed, which brings downhill skateboarders and lugers from around the world to compete on the pristine roadway.

The seventh-annual Maryhill Festival of Speed kicks off Wednesday and Thursday with practice runs, continues Friday and Saturday with elimination heats and climaxes Sunday with street luge finals and the 2013 Downhill Skateboarding International Downhill Federation World Cup.

Taking place on the unique and historic Maryhill Loops Road in the eastern Gorge, the event is a fascinating and thrilling display of the global downhill skateboarding culture, in a setting unlike anywhere else on the planet. For the best spectating, catch the action Saturday as two 96-man brackets are whittled down to form the final field, or bring a lawn chair on Sunday and claim a good spot to witness the best-of-the-best tear down the tight-cornered, sticky pavement that makes Maryhill Loops Road one of the most revered venues in the world for this type of contest.

This year’s event has drawn athletes from the United States, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Great Britain, Norway and beyond, to compete for $10,000 in prizes on the 2.2-mile, 22-corner course that has garnered fame throughout the world of downhill skating and street luge. With pristine pavement, idyllic scenery, hairpin corners and no street traffic to worry about, the road is a dream come true for thrill-seekers who travel the globe competing in IDF contests and earning World Cup points.

For spectators, free front-row viewing of the action along the course is supplemented by food, music and other event fanfare. Maryhill Loops Road is located east of US 97, off Highway 14 — cross the Columbia River at Biggs Junction. For more information and detailed schedules of the action, visit

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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