Viva la Niña 

Taking the temperature of the state's epic ski season

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Get in on winter's last weeks with these events


Saturday, Feb. 26

Sing "Get Along Little Doggies" during the Wild West Sled Dog Stage Race, a four-day professional sled dog race in West Yellowstone, which starts Sat., Feb. 26, and continues through Thu., March 1. Go to westyellowstonesleddograces.com for the low down or call 406-646-4988.

Howl 'til the doggies come home for the sixth annual Moonlight Basin Howlin' At the Moon Snowshoe Shuffle. Bring your snowshoes and your dogs to raise funds for the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. Registration at 5:30 p.m., and snowshoeing begins at 6 p.m. followed by a chili feed and live music at the Madison Village Base Area. $20/free for children under 15. Call (406) 995-7716 for more info.

Let your favorite pony pull you along during the Big Hole Valley Winterfest/Ski Joring competition in Wisdom, a two-day contest where horses, skiers and riders join forces to navigate a 900-foot course, including several 3.5-foot jumps. Hoof it to bigholevalley.com/WinterFest.html for the rundown.

Don't chortle too hard or you might slip on an icy patch during the Snow Joke Marathon, featuring one 13.1-mile lap around Seeley Lake on plowed roads. Registration is on race-day only from 8:45 to 10:30 a.m. Get the punch line at cheetahherders.com.

Saturday, March 5

Show off your XX-treme chromosomes for the Girls on Shred event organized by Edge of the World girls' department. Free to participate (you need a day ticket or season pass) and prizes offered at the end of the day. Call 721-7774 for details.

Put your stretch pants to the test during the Yellowstone Rendezvous Race, offering six different cross-country ski races on the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone. Check rendezvousrace.com for the scoop.

click to enlarge Avoid the void: traversing cornices high in the Flint Creek Mountains. - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Dress up like Sideshow Bob when Bridger Bowl hosts its 30th annual Pinhead Classic, a costume contest that raises funds for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center and begins with registration at 8:45 a.m. $30. Visit pinheadclassic.com.

Save room for plenty of barley soda when Lost Trail hosts Face Plant with the Trail, a relay race for four-person teams that includes skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or skin skiing, plus plenty of Face Plant beer from Bayern Brewery, starting at 10 a.m. E-mail ltfaceplant@gmail.com for cost and to register, and visit losttrail.com.

Sunday, March 6

Glide away the week on your cross country skis during the Big Sky Nordic Ski Festival, a weeklong fete that features a number of races, clinics and events like a "Glide & Gorge Ski or Snowshoe," all at Big Sky's Lone Mountain Ranch. Costs vary from $99 for all events to $10 per event. Visit lmranch.com/theranch/bigskynordicskifest for details.

Saturday, March 12

Buck it up and get pulled around on your skis by a horse and its rider during the National Finals Ski Joring Races in Red Lodge, a two-day competition where skiers navigate a course filled with around 20 slalom gates and four jumps. Prices to enter vary from $25 to $125. Visit redlodge.com/ski-joring/ for race details.

Saturday, March 26

Tell summer to bugger off during Lost Trail Powder Mountain's Summer Sucks Skiesta Splash Down, a ski/snowboarding competition that's open to shredders of all ages and styles. Catch the drift at ltpark.com.

Sunday, March 27

Don't get stuck during Snowbowl's North Dakota Downhill, a "slide and glide" contest for skiers and snowboarders. Get down at montanasnowbowl.com.

Friday, April 1

Join the competition or just bear witness to the region's skiers, snowboarders and tele skiers as they hit up Moonlight Basin's Headwaters—"the steepest in-bound terrain"—during the Headwaters Spring Runoff 2011, which kicks off with ski movies and a pasta feed the first day, followed by the competition the second day, all at the Moonlight Basin Ski area near Big Sky. Carve up details at moonlightbasin.com.

Saturday, April 2

Let the wind whisk you away on your skis during the Montana Snowkite Rodeo, a freestyle and racing competition at Jackson Hot Springs (located just south of Wisdom). Participants use a kite to help them glide across snow. Catch more info at montanakitesports.com.

Saturday, April 9

Don't forget your landing gear when Showdown Montana hosts the Great Falls Ski Club Mannequin Jumping contest, where mannequins are launched off of ski jumps for your viewing pleasure, starting at 4:30 p.m. Call 236-5522 for info.

For more winter events, check out Mountain High every week. To submit your own event, e-mail Calendar Overlord at calendar@missoulanews.com

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