Firefighters come to play in the snow |

Firefighters come to play in the snow

The weirdoes are here.

Some of them are milling about the porch wearing obnoxiously artistic underwear and lace capes. Their leader is an explosion of patriotic salad in his red, white and blue; he sports a megaphone and commands additional weirdoes as they barrel down the mountain on garbage bags.

From Feb. 25 to March 1, the International Firefighters Winter Games ascended on North Tahoe. Now in its 16th year, the games offer firefighters from around the globe the chance to compete against their peers in both the silly and legitimate. The event finishes up at Mount Rose today.

“It just kind of grew,” says Sandee Reedy, one-half of the event’s conception team. “Actually, it’s kind of grown out of hand.”

As bizarrely adorned firefighters strut about the Diamond Peak Ski Resort, Reedy explains that the group is in the midst of their Aussie Shorts Day/Best Dressed Contest.

“The cape change was quite exciting,” she says of an earlier relay race. “They were sticking it in each other’s mouths.”

Sixteen years ago Reedy and her husband, Pete, founded the International Firefighters Winter Games. Themselves a family of the cop persuasion, the couple thought it unfortunate that police had an international winter competition while firefighters did not.

“Police had an international event – firefighters had nothing,” she says. “We kind of like firefighters, they’re a fun group.”

Throughout their stint in Tahoe, the firefighters – hailing from as close as home and as far away as Australia – compete in various events on the hill. Racing their way throughout the North Shore, the games visit Northstar-at-Tahoe, Diamond Peak, Alpine Meadows Ski Area and Mount Rose Ski Resort.

Along with their grueling competitions, the firefighters also manage to squeeze in a bit of fun.

One of the games’ unofficial events is the Mr. Fanny Competition: “The ladies are encouraged to touch and feel all week so they can make educated decisions,” Reedy laughs.

There is also a Recreational Skiing Award, consisting of a bar stool mounted upon skis and equipped with a seat belt.

“It’s a party thing – you know?” Reedy says of the award, adding that the games give firefighters a chance to come together under a social tent as opposed to their normally heated working conditions.

“We’re promoting camaraderie, and that’s the bottom line,” Reedy explains, her husband and his megaphone lounging nearby. “They form bonding friendships – that, we’re very proud of.”

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