PACRAT racer Mark Stanford runs giant slalom on Stadium at Mt. Hood Meadows.

Squeeze in your last-minute dryland training and dig out that red wax, because recreational racers will have seven opportunities to run gates on Mount Hood this winter.

PACRAT racers have scheduled five competitions at Skibowl and Mt. Hood Meadows for 2014-15, along with a make-up race at Timberline if necessary - and of course the year-end Rat Attack party and awards ceremony.

There will also be two NASTAR races at Skibowl for anyone who wants to give racing a try. Racers who run NASTAR are compared to a national database of racers and can win gold, silver or bronze medals depending on how their times match up to national averages.

NASTAR Open races are open to anyone, whereas PACRAT races are reserved for skiers and snowboarders who join PACRAT teams.

PACRAT racing has been around for 30 years on Mount Hood, and more than 200 skiers and snowboarders compete each winter at Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline and Skibowl. The races are usually head-to-head dual giant slalom courses down Stadium, Dogleg or The Mile, 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.

PACRAT teams can consist of any 10-person mix of males and females, skiers and snowboarders. The age limit dropped last season from 21 to 18 to bring new people into the program. Racers pay $99 in annual dues and get discounted lift tickets and food and drinks at five post-race parties.

Anyone interested in competing in PACRAT races can join one of the ski clubs active on Mount Hood and talk to the club’s racing director. There will be a free-pizza informational meeting for members, newcomers and anyone curious to learn more about PACRAT Wednesday Nov. 19th from 6-8:30 pm at the Buffalo Gap Saloon, 6835 SW Macadam Ave. Portland, OR 97219. For more info check the PACRAT website here.

Last winter's crazy weather wreaked havoc on the PACRAT racing schedule, leading to a wild catch-up day at Meadows with 800 race runs down Stadium in one day. In the end the Ruttin' Rats of Schnee Vogeli won their fourth first-place trophy in a row.

Here is the 2014-15 Mount Hood Recreational Racing Schedule:

  1. Jan. 4, 20125, Skibowl: NASTAR Open
  2. Jan. 11, Skibowl: PACRAT Race #1
  3. Jan. 25, Meadows: PACRAT Race #2
  4. Feb. 8, Skibowl: PACRAT Race #3
  5. Feb. 22, Meadows: PACRAT Race #4
  6. March 15, Skibowl: NASTAR Open
  7. March 22, Timberline: PACRAT Race #5
  8. April 4, Timberline: PACRAT Race Make-up (if necessary)
  9. April 17: Season-End Rat Attack Party