- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

CAMDEN, Maine (AP) - Over in Russia, top-flight athletes from around the world are vying for Olympic glory. In Camden, Maine, teams called the “Redneck Racers,” ”Flying Elvis” and “Sheer Madness” are vying to see who can be fastest down a toboggan chute.

The National Toboggan Championships began in earnest Saturday, a day after the opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

All told, about 400 teams were competing on the Camden Snow Bowl’s 400-foot-long chute, which was built in the 1930s.

Some tobogganeers take the event seriously, with finely tuned sleds topping out at 45 mph. Others are just as serious about their silly costumes.

In fact, a costume contest was included in Saturday’s festivities.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” said Andrew Dailey, director of marketing at the Camden Snow Bowl, the only place in the East where alpine skiers get views of the ocean.

Participants were required to use a classic toboggan, which is a wooden sled without runners. There were divisions for two-, three- and four-member teams. There also was an “experimental” category for those who wanted to tweak the classic design with modern composites and other materials.

Having a good time was a priority as evidenced by some of the less-than-serious names given to the teams, including “Two Wing Nuts,” ”Big Kahunas” and “I Got Sleighed.”

The competition raises money for the Camden Snow Bowl, a nonprofit, municipally owned ski area on 1,300-foot Ragged Mountain. Trophies were to be awarded Sunday.

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Online:

National Toboggan Championships: http://bit.ly/1ltSBRA