Wednesday, February 8, 2012

‘Arctic Man’ premieres in Government Camp Friday

(news photo) 

A documentary about Arctic Man, and featuring Mount Hood skiers Petr Kakes and Keree Smith, will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at the Ratskeller Bar in Government Camp, 88335 E. Government Camp Loop Road.

“Arctic Man” features historical footage from Alaska’s Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic, a 26-year-old event that is considered the world’s toughest downhill ski race and draws more than 10,000 fans and sponsors to the remote area of Summit Lake each April.

Competitors begin the race at an elevation of 5,800 feet before dropping 1,700 feet in 1.75 miles. There they meet their teammates, who tow the racer uphill behind a snowmobile at speeds of more than 80 mph for 2.25 miles. After they crest another mountain, the racers ski down the final 1.75 miles of the course.

Kakes, 54, owner of Hurricane Racing at Mt. Hood Skibowl, has competed 18 times, won the race three times, placed second six times and still holds course records. In 2010, he was paired with Todd Palin, husband of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“As long as I can walk, I’ll be there,” Kakes says of the race.

Smith, 19, was the youngest person to win the race last spring. She’s now skiing and working in Salt Lake City. Eventually, she plans to race Arctic Man again.

“It’s the ultimate race down the mountain between man and machine,” Smith says. “It’s the most adrenaline-pumping experience ever.”

Howard Thies, the race’s founder and director, will attend the premiere, along with Kakes and other Mount Hood area skiers who’ve participated in the race.

“What started on a bet 26 years ago has emerged into an amazing experience featuring the top professional skiers, snowboarders and snow machine drivers from around the world,” Thies said in a press release. “When you see this film, you’ll understand the amazing athleticism and courage it takes to compete in the Arctic Man race and the effort involved in staging it.”

This is the first screening of the movie outside Alaska. The film, produced by Unified Productions in Bend, includes clips from ESPN, ABC, Warren Miller productions and commentary from notable participants.

Event organizers will give away “Arctic Man” items and copies of the DVD during Friday’s screening.

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