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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.

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It was painful watching Lindsey Vonn try to return early from a serious injury to make the Olympics last winter. She was skiing World Cup downhills with no anterior cruciate ligament, and things could have gone horribly wrong.

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Christi and Ben McKinley with their hard-earned ceramic mug and other goodies from Pole Pedal Paddle 2015.

Editor's Note: The 39th Annual Pole Pedal Paddle Classic in Bend brought out the usual mix of top-tier athletes, young upstarts and just-for-the-fun-of-it participants of all ages, shapes and sizes. Mount Hood Alpine racing dad, ski mountaineer and free ride coach Ben McKinley competed for the 12th time with his wife Christi. Here is our conversation about what originally drew them to PPP — and what keeps them coming back.

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Sandy High Racers get in the spirit for the first annual Kelsey Hewitt Memorial Race on Mount Hood. Photos by Robin Cressy

388 Oregon high school ski racers got the racing season rolling with the first annual Kelsey Hewitt Memorial Run Race at Mt Hood Meadows on Monday, January 2. 

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Sutton LeFever and Taylor Walker took first and second in the U8 giant slalom.

There were moments last weekend on Mount Hood when simply getting down the mountain was challenging enough, between the sharp sting of the sleet, the soaked-to-the-bone chill, the complete lack of visibility, and the sticky, tricky snow underfoot.

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Dale Parshall of the Ruttin' Rats gets into his tuck early.

Ruttin' Rat racers from the Schnee Vogeli Ski Club finished first among 20 Mount Hood recreational racing teams to defend their PACRAT racing team title for the fourth year in a row.

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Alexandria Oseland of Crystal Mountain races to victory at the 2014 Golden Rose slalom race. Photo by Mike Juliana.

Some 160 top junior racers from all over the Pacific Northwest competed in the 79th annual Golden Rose ski race May 24-25 at Timberline on Mount Hood.

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First slalom. Now GS. Don't be surprised to see Mikaela Shiffrin winning downhills in a few years. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Teenage slalom sensation Mikaela Shiffrin tied for first place in the season-opening World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, and the video of her second run clarifies that this win was far from a fluke.

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Kelsey and Randy Hewitt. A new race has been created to honor Kelsey, who died in Dec. 2015 at age 25.

High School Alpine Ski racers will compete on January 2 in a season-opening fun race named in honor of a racer who died at the age of 25 in a tree well accident.

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Levi Brown of the Mount Hood Race Team finished first for boys under 10. Photo by Mike Juliana

The cities of Portland and Hood River were pretty much shut down, and roads up to Mount Hood were a sheet of ice with fallen trees and abandoned cars, but that didn't stop a hard-core group of kid racers and their families and coaches from staging a slalom race in the sleet and rain at Skibowl Sunday.

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