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Tahoe Nugget #58:

2006 National Longboard Ski Championships (Photo Essay - 7 pics)
March 20, 2006

On Sunday, March 19, 2006, the Plumas Ski Club hosted the 14th annual National Longboard Ski Championships at the Eureka Ski Bowl in Plumas Eureka State Park near Johnsville, California. Longboard racing has a long history in the region, dating back to the 1850s when miners would ride ore buckets up the mountain and then ski down. With speeds approaching 90 mph in the 1870s, these men were the fastest humans on the planet.

Local mining communities with colorful names like Poker Flat, Whiskey Diggings and La Porte all sponsored longboard ski teams that would compete with each other for cash prizes which could reach $1,000. The sport became organized when Creed Raymond founded the Alturas Snowshoe (Ski) Club at La Porte in 1867. A close associate of his was Charley Hendel, a graduate of Zchoko Institute of Technology in Dresden, Germany, who arrived in Plumas County in 1853. Hendel, known as "Quicksilver" by the other racers, was a master at waxing his skis, or doping as it was then called. The "dope" consisted of ingredients like whale sperm, pine pitch, oils from trees like cedar, hemlock and sugar pine, as well as rosin and balsam. The mixture would be cooked and then allowed to cool before being hand-rubbed into the base of the skis. The various ingredients and cooking times for the dope recipes were considered trade secrets by each racer.

The nation's first downhill ski race course of record was laid out at Johnsville. Early courses were 100 feet wide and up to 1,800 feet long and ran straight down the mountain. The start and finish lines were marked with American flags. Racers ran in heats of two to four racers at a time with the winners advancing to the next round in a single elimination format. Today, after a century-long hiatus, longboarding is popular again at the Eureka Peak Ski Bowl. This annual event was well-attended this year, with lots of families there to watch the races and enjoy sledding, live music and barbecue. The old rope tows haven't operated for years, so both skiers and sledders must climb for their runs.

Yesterday was a perfect day for racing with fresh snow and crisp temperatures. This year, a new ski club from Truckee and Lake Tahoe joined in the fray to challenge the local skiers from Plumas County who have dominated the sport since it's revival in 1992. The "Tahoe N Truckee Ski Club" represented their community with a small contingent of racers, both men and women. The upstart TNT Ski Club surprised the Plumas Ski Club members when Kina Nemeth from Truckee took First Place in the women's races, and Gavin Ball, also of Truckee, placed third in the mens. It was a great start to a new rivalry.

Although alcohol may not be sold in Plumas Eureka State Park, many silver flasks were being passed around among the racers, and plenty of beer found its way to the picnic tables. The local ranger was tolerant of all the festivities, keeping in mind the motto of the Plumas Ski Club, "Skiing and Whiskeying in the Sierra Nevada since 1874."

Photo #1: Bragging rights for the Plumas Ski Club.
Photo #2: Kina Nemeth using her pole to gain speed.
Photo #3: This guy shows how to brake after crossing the finish line. Three poles were broken.
Photo #4: Men's final run as they cross the finish line. First Place, Rob Russel from Quincy; Second Place, Phil Gallagher from Meadow Valley; Third Place, Gavin Ball from Truckee.
Photo #5: High speed braking throws up snow scree.
Photo #6: Kina Nemeth of Truckee takes First Place as new women's champion.
Photo #7: Longboard racers showing off their skis.

Nugget 58 A Worlds 1st ski race sign 3-06

Nugget #58 B Women longboard head to head Nemeth 3-06

Nugget #58 C screaming longboarder racer #1 3-06

Nugget #58 D 3 guys to the finish line longboard 3-06

Nugget #58 E Longbaord racer snowscree #1 3-06

Nugget #58 F Kina Nemeth #1 woman racer 3-06

Nugget #58 G All longboarders before race 3-06

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