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SMARL Begins 13th Winter Competition With ‘Awesome’ Conditions at Sugar Mountain


By Jesse Wood

The first weekly competition in the Sugar Mountain Adult Race League (SMARL) took place last night with Team Sugar, Banner Elk Café and Ski Country tied for first place with 20 points in the skiing column.

In the snowboard competition, Edge of the World edged out Sugar Ski School and Modern Rustic with 10 points.

This is now the 13th season of SMARL, which is described as an underground beer league for local skiers and snowboarders. The competition is held on Mondays and is six weeks long, held in January and February.

The event, which has a capacity of 100 and hardly much turnover year to year, sells out quickly usually around Thanksgiving time – without the benefits of advertising. But this year, SMARL sold out within the first week of November, according to Bill Leonard of Ski Country Sports, one of the sponsors of SMARL.

“It’s nice having that consistency and camaraderie and everyone has a good time doing it,” Leonard said. “We had a 100 people out there the first night and had a really good turnout.”

As for the conditions at Sugar Mountain Resort last night, Leonard said it was a tad chilly but the “skiing was awesome.” He had great things to say about what Sugar Mountain Resort has been able to accomplish with little natural snow to fall so far this winter.

“The snow was great. Sugar has put down an awful lot of snow. They have a 50-inch base, and the skiing was great,” Leonard said. “It was a little chilly, but the skiing was awesome. That’s the best part about it, and Sugar is still making snow all over the mountain.”

Since the ski season began, which is normally around the Thanksgiving holiday, only about three inches of combined snow has fallen atop Sugar Mountain during three separate snow events in the past month.

Once the New Year arrived, the weather pattern turned colder, and Leonard added that he hopes “it just sticks for a while longer” – especially with MLK Weekend, one of the busy ski holidays, on the horizon.

“The slopes are in good shape. Beech, App and Sugar are all making a ton of snow,” Leonard said. “A little cosmetic snow would be the capper now to get people up here.”

Check out more photos from the first competition below as well as the results and team standings.

MNARL Team Standings race the gate results

TEAM 12_0089
TEAM 11_0085
Sugar Ski School
TEAM 10_0082
Modern Rustic
TEAM 9_0068
Azucar Amigos
TEAM 8_0057
High Country Tap Room
TEAM 7_0054
Good Ole Boys
TEAM 6_0050
Appalachian Ski Team
TEAM 5a_0090
Edge of the World
TEAM 4_0024
Banner Elk Cafe
TEAM 3_0019
Ski Country D
TEAM 2_0013
Ski Country A
TEAM 1_0007
Team Sugar
Susan Leonard at her post getting the teams lined up and in order for their turn on the course.
SCENE 5_0111
Skier at the starting gate
SCENE 4_0099
Racer on the course
SCENE 3_0077
Snowboarding at the gate
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Racers waiting their turn to race
Mark Russ of Team Ski Country Sports sporting his winter mustache
Chris Austin of Team The Lodge back for another year of racing.