CAMDEN, Maine — The first time Mary Bumiller participated in the U.S. National Toboggan Championships in Camden, one of her first thoughts after flying down the 440-foot-long ice chute was that she was never going to do it again.
“It’s really scary,” Bumiller said.
But this year she’s going back on her promise to herself, participating in the championships as a member of an all-female toboggan team called the Funkadelic Flamingo Flyers — a team that is preparing to win.
The women have roped in coach David Dickie, who helped build the ice chute in 1990, as they prepare for the event, which kicks off Friday in Camden and will run through Sunday. The team has secured a championship-winning toboggan to ride, has been practicing a regimen of core-strengthening exercises, and is working on team building through a signature cocktail and pink costumes to match.
Bumiller will team up with Maile Buker of Portland and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Tammie Ahmadieh of Camden.
Getting down the chute only takes a matter of seconds, usually around nine or 10. But the women of the Funkadelic Flamingo Flyers are picking up on what makes the sledding event so endearing to those who make it an annual tradition.
Sure, it’s the nine seconds of thrills and a shot at sledding victory, but it’s also about friendship, tradition and, of course, fun.
“I am so looking forward to this. I am an adrenaline junkie at heart, and I’m doing this with my flamingo flock. With the equipment and gear that we have, why not?” Buker said. “My only disappointment is that it’s going to go so fast, and it will be over before we know it.”