SAPPHIRE, NC (WFMY) -- Don’t be a party pooper. Just call it a buttload of fun.
The annual Sapphire Valley Ski Resort's Great Outhouse Race on Feb. 18 is apparently unique as far as ski sports and is in no danger of going down the drain.
The outhouses-on-skis race drew a record crowd of 2,500 spectators and 16 outhouses last year, said Sapphire Valley marketing manager Jim King.
“We have researched it and as far as we can tell, it’s the only outhouse race down a ski slope in the country,” King said.
Watching how the social media web hits continue to grow, he’s anticipating even more this year.
LIVE Web Cam: Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
The small ski resort about an hour southwest of Asheville has only 400 pairs of skis to rent, which are always scooped up on Outhouse Race weekend, but the event draws many nonskiers for its voyeuristic nature and giggle-inducing name. People come from as far as Greenville, South Carolina, and Atlanta for the action.
Here’s how the race goes down
Teams of three – two outhouse pushers and one rider, or “sitter” – race two at a time down the training slope, which is a couple hundred feet long. Participants must be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet and safety goggles.
Outhouses can be made of any material, from wood to plastic to cardboard, and must be secured to a set of skis. The sliding toilets can be glamorous, grungy or down to the bare bottom tacks, but all must include a seat with at least one hole, and a roll of toilet paper or “alternative wiping source.”
In a further immodest twist, all outhouse doors must be propped open so the sitter is visible.
Past teams, usually sponsored by local businesses, have had names such as “Who Cut the Cheese,” “Redneck Wishing Well,” and “Party Poopers.”
Two team members push the privy to the start line, then let it rip down the two-lane run of packed snow. The goal is to go fast and stay upright.
The winner is determined by “double elimination.”
It’s not as gross as it all sounds, King said. The bathroom humor race got started in 2008 with two outhouses racing each other to attract business to Jackson County in the winter, to a much anticipated winter extravaganza.
“The public wanted to start building their own outhouses and it just blew up from there,” he said.
Other local activities include hiking at Whiteside Mountain, eateries including Randevu and Sapphire Mountain Brewing Co., and art galleries.
All $100 team entry fees for the race and proceeds from Danny’s BBQ lunch go to Fishes & Loaves, a Jackson County food bank. The average amount raised each year is $2,000.
The teams are quite competitive, including many sponsors who are local builders, electricians and contractors.
Conrad Mercure, owner of Conrad’s Electrical Service in Lake Toxaway, is entering his “Scrap Crapper” for the second year. Two of his sons and a friend make up the team.
Mercure takes great pride in building his bathroom on skis from scrap materials, which includes an electrical corn cob on a wire as the toilet paper roll.
Since there are no brakes or steering devices, the Scrap Crapper had a bit of an issue when the catchers didn’t catch them at the bottom of the hill and they plowed into a snowbank, breaking the skis. Mercure said he was promised a longer mat at the slope bottom this year.
“It’s a blast, and the competition is just fun. Other builders and contractors around here are just a little competitive,” he said.
Robert Kenyon, owner of Mica’s Restaurant in Sapphire, is building his team’s outhouse for the fourth year. One year it was named “Mica’s Dumpster,” and this year it will be “Mica’s Office.”
Kenyon has learned from each race. This year his outhouse will be lower to the ground and more aerodynamic, and will sit on three skis to prevent the almost inevitable crashing.
“Tipping over happens quite often. It’s like a giant free for all,” Kenyon said. “In the winter, when it’s a little slower, this is a chance to relax, catch a breather and have a lot of fun. It’s something the whole community can rally around.”
If you go
Sapphire Valley Ski Resort’s 11th annual Great Outhouse Race is Feb. 18. The festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. with lunch for sale by Danny’s BBQ and a live band. The “static” outhouse race begins at 2:30 where outhouses will be on display.
The race starts at 3 p.m. Spectators watch for free. Race entry is $100 per three-person team. All proceeds go to the Fishes & Loaves food pantry in Cashiers.
For more details click on Sapphire Valley Ski Resort.
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