CAMDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- All this cold and ice we've had has been miserable - unless you happen to be a toboggan racer.
In Camden, the weather has been nearly perfect for building up the toboggan chute at the Camden Snow Bowl. Next weekend, the Snow Bowl will host the 24th U.S. National Toboggan Championships.
At a media day on Friday, race organizers said most of the 425 race team slots are filled, but there are still a few openings for 2-person and 4 person teams. They expect all those slots to be filled before race day. That means there will be roughly 1,000 individual racers competing.
Stuart Young, the long time "chute master" for the 400-foot, ice filled toboggan chute, says the prolonged cold has made conditions nearly ideal. Young says the chute will be open to the public this weekend, then closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. During that time, he will work overnight to build up a two-inch thick layer of ice for the races. Young says the advance forecast looks very promising, and even some midweek snow shouldn't cause a problem.
The annual races have become a big event for the Camden area, as thousands of racers and spectators fill restaurants, bars and hotels for the weekend event. Businesses and race organizers are hoping to extend the celebration by coordinating with another weekend event called Winterfest. Toboggan race chairperson Holly Edwards says their goal is to eventually have a week-long cold weather celebration, starting with Winterfest and ending with Toboggan Nationals.