Skiers celebrate winter season at Fat Flake Festival downtown

By By Rita Totten, Staff Writer

By Rita Totten, Staff Writer

A chill was in the air as men, women and children geared up in stiff ski boots and approached the starting line in preparation for a ski boot race at the third annual Fat Flake Festival at the Gallivan Center on Saturday.

“I’m going to try and waddle as fast as I can,” said Parker Conroy, a junior in mechanical engineering. “Kind of like a sprinting penguin.”

Conroy said he had limited experience in ski boot racing but thought the race would be fun to do with his brother.

Luke Ratto, a Ski Utah employee, said about 50 contestants participated in the ski boot race, 30 of who preregistered for it.

“This is the first time we’ve had this event, so it’s a tester to see how it will turn out,” Ratto said.

Participants had to sign a waiver to compete in the race along the 200-meter course that included straightaways and stairs. Contestants were divided into men’s, women’s and children’s divisions, and all winners received a new pair of Rossignol ski boots.

The men’s race was first, which Todd Glew, a recent U graduate with a major in parks, recreation and tourism

won. Glew said he didn’t have a strategy to win8212;he just wanted to have fun and received new alpine ski boots.

Caitlin Morgan, a U graduate in international studies, won the women’s division of the race. As she crossed the finish line, fellow racers congratulated her, saying she took a lead and there was no way to catch up to her. Morgan, who comes to the festival every year, said her rear-entry ski boots helped her win the race.

Ski Utah hosted the free festival that featured booths from all the major Big Cottonwood Canyon resorts.

Jessica Kunzer, director of communications for Ski Utah, said the festival was a way to kick off the ski season.

“We wanted to have a big party downtown to get people excited for winter,” Kunzer said.

Marshmallow roasting, T-shirt making and a sneak preview of Shaun White’s new snowboarding video game made the festival an event for the whole family. Ice-skating was also available at the Gallivan Center for a small fee.

A vintage ski outfit contest was held, and the winner received a new winter outfit as well as his or her choice of a new Burton snowboard or Rossignol skis.

Winter athletes signed posters for fans, answered questions and posed for pictures in the Powder Lounge.

Rachael Burks, an International Free Skiers Association competitor who has been skiing for most of her life, said it was a privilege to be a part of the festival.

“I just wanted to come and be around various other Utah athletes,” Burks said. “Salt Lake has such a huge base of athletes.”

Burks said she has been in Utah off and on for a long time and loves riding the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

Her favorite thing about skiing is the powder and sharing the moment at the end of the run with friends.

“Just being covered in snow and looking back up and being like, “Wow! That was crazy!'”

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Lennie Mahler

Breeze Hannaford dances with the group Hoop in 2 Health near the stage at the Gallivan Center on Saturday. The Fat Flake Festival promoted incoming winter sports and activities and featured live music, ice-skating and a climbing wall.