PACRAT racers Farzin Ghezel and Colleen Heffernan Walter go head-to-head on the Magic Mile.

Racers of all ability levels aged 18 and over will be eligible to compete in PACRAT recreational races on Mount Hood starting in January 2014.

PACRAT organizers have decided to drop the age limit from 21 to 18 this season to bring new people into the program.

More than 200 skiers and snowboarders compete in PACRAT team races each winter at Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline and Mt. Hood Skibowl. The races, usually head-to-head dual giant slalom courses, are scored on a point system that rewards steady improvement. Racers get two runs: one in the red course and one in the blue course. Only the best of your two times counts, so if you crash or miss a gate in your first run you are not disqualified as long you complete your other run.

This winter’s schedule calls for five PACRAT races at Skibowl, Meadows and Timberline, plus two Nastar open races at Skibowl and a make-up race at Timberline in April.

PACRAT teams can consist of any 10-person mix of males and females, skiers and snowboarders. Racers pay $95 in annual dues and get discounted lift tickets and food and drinks at the post-race party.

Anyone interested in competing can join one of the ski clubs active on Mount Hood and talk to the club’s racing director.

Racers who compete in NASTAR races are compared to a national database of racers and can win gold, silver or bronze medals depending on their times.

Whereas PACRAT races are only open to racers on teams, NASTAR races are open to anyone who wants to try them.

Here is the 2014 PACRAT race schedule on Mount Hood:

  • Jan. 5: NASTAR Open, Skibowl
  • Jan. 12: PACRAT Race #1, Skibowl      
  • Jan. 26: PACRAT Race #2, Skibowl     
  • Feb. 9: PACRAT Race #3 Meadows     
  • March 2: NASTAR Open, Skibowl      
  • March 16: PACRAT Race #4, Mt. Hood Meadows      
  • March 30: PACRAT race #5, Timberline      
  • April 6: Make-Up race, Timberline