Participants thinking outside the cardboard box

26th annual event is April 8 at Steamboat Ski Area

— Glue. String. Tape. Water-based paint. Cardboard.

Sounds like an afternoon of arts and crafts with preschoolers. Not quite, but it's close.

The above-listed materials -- including duct, masking and packing tapes -- are all that are allowed during the 2006 Smartwool Cardboard Classic, the Steamboat Ski Area's traditional rite of spring.

The 26th annual Cardboard Classic is April 8. Judging of the crafts is during the Cardboard D'Elegance from noon to 1 p.m. adjacent to the Headwall ski trail.

The race, which few cardboard crafts finish, begins at 1:30 p.m. on Headwall. There is no prize for making it down the run, but Waste Management provides a Dumpster at the bottom so participants can trash their crafts.

Although the Cardboard Classic is meant to be a relaxing, fun event for participants and spectators, it also is a chance for residents and tourists to get creative with basic construction materials.

Trophies will be presented for the top crafts in the following categories: most creative, ugliest, best individual craft, potpourri and best reproduction of a person, place or thing.

The Steamboat Rugby Club won last year's most original craft award for its Routt County Justice Center entry. The men want to defend their title, and captain Michael Hurley won't disclose what they're brewing up this year.

"The Rugby Club has started collecting cardboard," Hurley said Friday. "That is earlier than usual. Construction of our hopefully third-year-in-a-row award-winning craft will begin the night before the race."

There is no cost to enter, and all participants are eligible for a drawing for a 2006-07 season ski pass. Other prizes may be awarded.

Registration forms and fact sheets are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Information Center in Gondola Square. Registration is from 9 to 11:30 a.m. April 8 at the Information Center.

No more than six people are allowed per craft, and children 6 to 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Children 5 and younger can't participate.

All participants must sign an entry form and waiver before competing.

A post-race awards ceremony and party is at Bear River Bar and Grill in Gondola Square, though most participants won't wait that long to begin celebrating the end of the ski season.

"I will tell you this, there will be a craft this year so much better than anything ever seen in the history of the Cardboard Classic," Hurley said. "The only tip is, apparently it's yellow."

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