Detroit has long been called Motor City.

How about Ski Race City?

All four of Detroit's suburban ski areas - Pine Knob, Mt. Holly, Mt. Brighton, and [R9R, Alpine Valley] - offer extensive racing programs for juniors, high schools, and adults, and they are full most of the time.

The city has always had a gritty, blue-collar mentality.  Its residents work hard, play hard, and ski hard. Ski racing is an extension of that mentality says longtime ski school director Pat Deibel, who oversees the ski schools and racing programs at Pine Knob and Mt. Holly.

"It started in the 1980s with high school racing programs in Michigan, which included the Detroit area. They flourished, and we became busy," he told OnTheSnow. "The adult racing programs are an extension of all the high school racing programs. It's big in the Detroit area.

"We routinely have about 150 participants in each of our nightly adult race leagues at Pine Knob and Mt. Holly. I've been at this for 30 years and the numbers continue to grow. Last season was one of the best we've had in the last 15 years with participants," he enthused.

The four areas provide a ski racing pipeline for the adult leagues, serving as a training base for upward of 40 high school race teams and a venue for countless recreational racing programs. All four areas are easily accessible for city residents via expressways and major highways, no more than an hour away and less in most cases.

It's not too early, according to Diebel, for skiers to start checking into race leagues and programs at their favorite ski area.

"Becasue of the popularity of the leagues and programs they tend to fill early. Wait too long, and you may be out of luck," he cautioned. "Don't wait until the snow flies  We're already accepting applicants at both Holly and Pine Knob."

Ski racing enthusiasts in Detroit are lucky to have four ski areas within an hour of downtown. Not many major cities in the U.S. have such a connection.