Dummy Building for Dummies

Spring silliness is in full bloom, and one of the ways we celebrate is to attend silly events. Even better: participate in a silly event. If you’ve never done that before, no worries! We all had to start sometime, what better time than the present? What better event than the Dummy Derby on April 2nd?

This article is meant for those of you who have never built a dummy for the Dummy Derby and fall into one or more of the following categories: A. You’ve attended the event and told your friends that you would build one someday. B. You’ve never attended the event but you like to drink beer and build things. C. You need a quick $400. D. You have no intention of building a dummy but you like to read humorous articles about what’s going on at the mountain.

Whitefish Mountain Resort Dummy Derby

Part 1: What pray tell is a Dummy Derby?
The Dummy Derby is a demolition derby on snow where dummies built on skis and snowboards descend a slope, go off a jump and land in a pit. Dummies have a theme or depict an object of meaning, and come in all shapes and sizes. Prizes are awarded in different categories and a $400 cash prize is given to the overall winner ranked half for creativity and half for jump distance.

Part 2: The Rules
Each dummy needs to be securely mounted to skis and/or snowboards (duh) so that it can slide unassisted down a slope to a jump and propel itself off said jump. The dummy cannot have anything live onboard, no people, no animals, simply objects you do not care about. Dummies must be built with safe objects (no glass, nails, oil, toxic materials, etc.) and cannot weigh more than 300 pounds. Warning! Do NOT use ski boots and bindings! Your dummy must stay attached to its base so if your dummy has ski boots, drill them to your base.

Participants under 18 years of age must have a parent or guardian sign a liability waiver. No exceptions. Please print the Registration and Liability Waiver posted on skiwhitefish.com and bring it with you. The event is limited to 50 participants. It is free to enter but you must have a $50 refundable deposit for dummy clean up. (A check is easiest.) Clean it up and get your deposit back.

Part 3: Choosing your theme/subject
Awards are given for five different categories which can be used as a starting point for ideas, otherwise your only limit is your imagination.

The five categories are:
1. Dummy Date: The sexiest dummy (subject to censorship—we are a family resort) 
2. Dummy Dump: The dummy with the biggest splash (from inside your dummy) 
3. Dummy Drunk: the best beer-themed dummy (it is Brewfest that day you know)
4. Dummy Ace: Best idea for a dummy (clever and witty, or just plain cool)
5. Dummy Democracy: crowd favorite dummy (often goes to the best crash)

Tip! Incorporating water into your dummy design could help you earn cool points toward several of the categories.

Part 4: Building tips
Remember dummies descend a slope toward a jump where they will (hopefully) launch artfully into the sky to the pleasure of the crowd. Therefore your dummy must be engineered to remain steady down the run, and generate enough speed to launch.

The most important building tip is to create a steady base for your dummy. Once you have the skis (you can use more than two) or snowboard(s) you will need a “riser” (think wood blocks) to keep your dummy out of the snow. It should be at least four feet wide but no more than eight feet wide, and have at least six inches of clearance. Screw the base into the skis/snowboards preferably with a drill. Make your dummy as aerodynamic as possible and make it lean forward. Keep weight toward the front so it does not spin and crash before the jump.

Five Common Dummy Building Pitfalls:
1. Too light: Dummies should be at least 100 pounds to make it to and off the jump.
2. Too tall: Very tall dummies can fall over if not proportionally supported by the base (See physics 101).
3. Too short: While a low center of gravity is a good thing, if the dummy is too close to the snow it can drag.
4. Too narrow: Dummies on skis that are too close together usually fall (remember your dummy is no expert).
5. Too wide: Dummies built with anything that can catch the wind slow down too much.