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Tahoe Nugget #170:

Longboards at Mammoth
April 3, 2009

Members of the Plumas Ski Club took their longboards and racing skills to Mammoth Mountain ski resort this week where they showed off their 15-foot-long wooden skis to the uninitiated. The longboard event was held in conjunction with Skiing Heritage Week and the International Ski History Congress being held at the Mammoth Ski Museum.

Mammoth Mountain is a huge dormant volcano in the eastern Sierra that towers over the town of Mammoth Lakes. Topping out at 11,053 feet, Mammoth is a favorite destination for skiers from Los Angeles and southern California. The Mammoth region is loaded with active geologic features like dramatic earthquake faults, geothermal hot springs and evidence of relatively recent volcanic eruptions.

The weather was superb with bright sunshine, a light breeze and afternoon temperatures in the 50s. I had hoped to ski a few runs on the mountain, but was unable to obtain a complimentary media pass from the resort and was unwilling to pay the steep price of $83 that they charge to ride the chairlifts.

During the longboard racing demonstrations I had an interesting conversation with Scott Lawson, Director of the Plumas County Museum. Historians have credited the Alturas Snowshoe Club, which was formed at La Porte in February 1867, as the first official ski club in the United States. The Alturas Snowshoe Club is not considered the first ski club in the world since Norway and Australia both claim to have organized ski clubs in 1861.

But recent research by Lawson indicates that racing events were organized in Sierra and Plumas counties as early as the winter of 1861, which makes
California's Gold Rush longboarders among the world's first recognized ski club racers.

Scott Lawson and veteran longboard skier and race promoter Rob Russell presented this new research to the Ski History Congress on Monday morning before the afternoon races. I will be incorporating this new material in my upcoming book, "Longboards to Olympics: A Century of Winter Sports" scheduled to be published in Sept/Oct 2009.

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Photo #1: Mammoth Mountain is a dormant volcano.
Photo #2: Scott Lawson.
Photo #3: Setting up the starting gate.
Photo #4: Racers take off.
Photo #5: Doping the boards for speed.
Photo #6: Woman hitting the brakes.
Photo #7: Old style jump turns.
Photo #8: Pair dancing down the mountain together.
Photo #9: Empty lifts at the end of the day.
Photo #10: Fixer upper cabin with a great view.

Nugget #170 A Mammoth Mountain

Nugget #170 B Scott Lawson

Nugget #170 C Preparing Race Course Start

Nugget #170 D Racers Take Off

Nugget #170 E Doping the Boards

Nugget #170 F Woman Braking

Nugget #170 G Old Fashioned Jump Turning

Nugget #170 H End of Day

Nugget #170 I Fixer Upper Cabin

Nugget #170 J Pair Dancing Down Slope

 

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