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Polar Daze Sled Derby racers enjoy challenge

BEMIDJI – Sometimes, 4-year-old boys must be reminded of the obvious.

As wind whipped at speeds fast enough to rob lungs of breath, and temperatures were, well, face-stingingly cold, Tyler Warner asked a simple question.


He wanted to know the reason his mother, Lori, told him to cover his face ahead of the Polar Daze Sled Derby.

“Because it’s freezing cold.”


Warner was among a small group who piloted home-made sleds down a bunny-hill-at-best slope Saturday. His co-pilots, Ava Warner and Lucy Kisch, both 6, sat in the front seat of a wooden sled.

It was constructed to resemble a sleigh straight out of Hooville, and took four hours to build thanks in no part to its occupants.

“It would have taken two hours without the kids,” Sam Kisch said.

Carpentry, apparently, is a trade for adults.

The sleigh built for three fared better than other sleds. Gravity was not enough for one made of cardboard – scooting helped, a little.

“Sometimes they even make it down the hill,” said Catherine Smith, who served as the official score keeper for the derby.

Prizes were awarded, but for most, the chance to battle the elements (and they were brutal) plus a speedy (or not) trip down the hill were the greatest gifts.

For those keeping score at home, the Warner-Kisch sled won the day as far as speed was concerned. Although, without the existence of a stopwatch, that’s probably an unofficial result. When the sleigh reached the bottom, it didn’t stop and for a minute, looked like it might cruise onto Lake Bemidji.

With the race behind them, the trio faced the day’s greatest challenge: getting back up the hill. After some shuffling, they succeeded, then it was Ava’s turn to ask a question.

“Did we win?”

Lori did not hesitate to respond.

“You did in my book.”

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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