A mass of political hot air shifted westward this weekend as U.S. senators, accustomed to verbal bickering on the Hill, resorted to physical abuse on the mountain.

In the name of a good cause, Democrats and Republicans tested their bipartisan spirit of cooperation - and won.But the big prize - more than $100,000 - went to Primary Children's Medical Center, benefactor of the third annual Senators Ski Cup.

"It couldn't have gone better. Everyone had a great time, and we raised a lot of money for Primary Children's Hospital," said Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, originator and honorary chairman of the annual fund-raising event.

Tall tales are likely to be told by the senators and two Cabinet members, as Interior Secretary Donald Hodel edged out Energy Secretary John Herrington for top honors. But the fastest senator on the Clementine run argued that's because Cabinet members have more idle time.

"It just goes to show you that Cabinet members have more time to practice their skiing than senators," said Sen. Robert Kasten, R-Wis., who finished third in the event.

Garn himself was the fourth fastest skier, followed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

"Jake and I disagree on practically everything, but we both love skiing and we're both interested in medical research," said Lautenberg, who, in memory of his late father, founded the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology. The center is considered one of the foremost centers in the world for cancer and immunology research.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was the 13th fastest of the 17 officials on the slalom course.

"Senator Hatch's main problem is that he always skis right; he hasn't learned to turn left," quipped volunteer announcer Jack Turner, who officially declared Hatch "the most improved skier" for a second year.

Hatch, who was suffering both back and knee problems Saturday, also garnished the title of "best sport." Immediately following his runs, he was admitted to LDS Hospital for arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"I wanted to support this first," Hatch said. "It's one of the important things I do. Besides, it's a lot of fun."

Thanks to the knee brace he wore skiing, the senator entered the hospital no worse for wear.

There was, however, one mishap on the course when Sen. Steve Symms, R-Idaho, fell and dislocated his shoulder on his first run. Idaho's junior senator was treated at the resort and returned a short time later to watch the afternoon's races with his arm in a sling.

"Well, I found out that a separated shoulder is more painful than a broken arm," said Symms, who after a fall during Friday's practice runs said he felt like a bobsled gaining weight as he slid down the mountain.

"I decided to go a little faster than I should have and I caught a gate. But what the heck, it was for a good cause," he said Saturday.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Sen. Al D'Amato, R-N.Y., who had become missiles on fiberglass after only four days on the slopes.

"I thought we could add a bit to this wonderful event. In my case - humor," D'Amato said.

Calling himself a very beginning skier, Nunn added, "If you could handicap my skiing like you do golf, I'd be skiing about a 120."

One of the more surprising runs of the day came from Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who finished sixth. The early contender in the 1988 race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination skied aggressively and competitively after spending seven months in intensive care following brain surgery.

Informed that he was the favorite in Saturday's ski race, Biden dismissed the odds. "That's what they said about the Democratic nomination," he said.

Event sponsors were American Express, Park City Ski Area, Delta Air Lines, U.S. West, BMI, Coca Cola, First Security Bank, Lucas-Western and Textron.

Carolyn Bond substituted for husband Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., who also had recently undergone surgery.

"Last year I was one of those who didn't finish, so I just wanted to get down the mountain," Mrs. Bond said. "Next year, he skies."

According to Garn, a fourth annual Senators Ski Cup is a definite. Among those who have already committed to compete are Vice President-elect Dan Quayle.

Quayle, who participated in the past two Senators Cups, was unavailable this weekend. "He was tied up with inauguration events and couldn't participate," Garn said. "He's promised he'll be here next year."