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Tahoe Nugget #162

Longboard Racing
January 19, 2009

Yesterday was a day of thrills, chills and spills. The weather was beautiful and the race course lightning fast at the first Longboard Revival Race Series for 2009 at Plumas Eureka State Park. This increasingly popular community-oriented event is held three times during the winter season (conditions permitting) and hosted by the Plumas Ski Club.

Longboard racing harkens back to the 1860s when men and women from small mining towns in Plumas and Sierra counties (about 50 miles north of Truckee) would climb up the side of a mountain and then ride wooden skis from 9 to 16 feet long down race courses up to 1,250 feet in length. Maximum speeds peaked near 90 mph. These people were the fastest humans on the planet and the speed records set on those long, heavy boards weren't broken until nearly 80 years later.

Considered the first ski racers in North America, it took a lot of whiskey and serious betting for these miners to push the boundaries of physics and good sense. But the boards got longer and the racers went faster until the thrill of speed overcame the fear of death.

The Plumas Ski Club's mantra is Dope is King because the vital skill of waxing a ski for maximum glide was called doping in the nineteenth century. Even today, riders carry their own secret dope concoctions to increase their speed and most have a flask of whiskey to help dampen the natural inclination for self preservation.

I've attended five of these Plumas longboard races so far, but I have never seen so many crashes. The course had been machine groomed, but the surface was cold, fast and a bit bumpy. The starting point was re-positioned about 50 feet down the slope due to the fast conditions until the final championship runs when the judges moved it back up to its original location. In the men's and women's finals, the contestants were ripping down the slope, hitting the finish line close to 40 mph.

I took about 250 photos yesterday, but this Nugget includes only a baker's dozen that were chosen to highlight part of the experience. You can learn about the history and see more images in Tahoe Nuggets #135 and #141, as well as in this newspaper article: www.plumasskiclub.org/pdf/nevada_appeal%20.pdf

Check out this excellent short video from a recent longboard race posted on the Plumas Ski Club website. The video link is located at the bottom left corner of: www.plumasskiclub.org/long.html

Photo #1: 2009 Longboard Racing Poster.
Photo #2: Racecourse was a bit bumpy.   
Photo #3: Skiers being instructed by official starting judge.
Photo #4: I think only six women signed up to race these conditions.  
Photo #5: Great outfits. Who needs a broom? 
Photo #6: The men's champion Russell displaying some power braking. 
Photo #7: Longboard Racing fan. Definitely a family event.
Photo #8: Stop any way you can! There are no bales of hay at the end of the run.
Photo #9: Who says it's a men's sport?
Photo #10: Longboard binding detail.
Photo #11: He's safe!
Photo #12: End of the day for the champ Russell. Phil Gallagher (right) was the reigning men's champ until today.
Photo #13: Nice country north of Truckee.

Nugget #162 Update to 2009 Longboard Poster02

Nugget #162 B Racecourse lenth and pitch02

Nugget #162 C The Starting Gate02

Nugget #162 D Tough on the Women02

Nugget #162 E Who Needs a Broom02

Nugget #162 F Power Braking02

Nugget #162 G Longboard Fan02

Nugget #162 H Stylish finish02

Nugget #162 I Wearing her Sunday Best02

Nugget #162 J Longboard Binding Detail02

Nugget #162 K He is Safe02

Nugget #162 L End of the Day02

Nugget #162 M Ranching Country02

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