Longboards celebrates 150 years!

Shannon Morrow
Rachael Weigle muscles her way through deep snow near the finish line.

With an abundance of new snow from last weekend’s storm, the March 20 longboard races were a memorable celebration of 150 years of ski racing, which originated in Plumas County.

The race course at Plumas Eureka Ski Bowl claimed lots of good crashes Sunday, as competitors navigated an interesting array of tracks interspersed through deep powder. Visibility was also an issue, as it snowed nonstop throughout the event.

After last month’s longboard races were cancelled due to a heavy snowstorm, the Plumas Ski Club was determined to hold the season’s final event, as extra planning went into the 150th anniversary.

With kind assistance from several other organizations, the Plumas Ski Club orchestrated the event despite the conditions, and the day turned out to be a glorious affair of good racing and fun celebration.

With 32 men and six women competing in front of a crowd of notable spectators, the snowy conditions created interesting variables that made it anybody’s race.

After more than 30 races in the single-elimination brackets, Eric McGrath emerged as the men’s winner and Carol Burney won the women’s championship.

Second place went to Bryce Rhodes and Rachael Weigle, while third place went to Dale Lambert and Kristi O’Reiley.

The victory was especially sweet for Burney, a longtime racer who had garnered several second places in the past, but had never reached the top of the podium until now. Upon winning, Burney half joked about the possibility of retiring.

The three men who earned podium spots in the January race were each eliminated in the first round last Sunday.

Another anomaly was the three races between Jack Webster and Ryan Murray. After the first race was called a tie, Webster and Murray hiked back to the top of the hill for another run against each other. In their second race, which was also very close, Webster was initially determined the winner, but the decision was overturned and the two were forced to race a third time, which Murray won.

Possibly the most memorable race of the day was between ski club president Ron Logan and defending champion Brett Marty. After Marty took an early lead, Logan passed him midway down the course and looked on his way to victory until a spectacular crash just before the finish line allowed Marty to advance.

During the awards ceremony, which was moved into the Intorf Lodge, Jim Webster was honored for his key role in assisting with the longboard races and other club efforts.

The Plumas Ski Club also expressed its appreciation to the Plumas County Road Department; Paul Erwin and Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative; John Seiborski and Plumas Eureka State Park Association; Sierra Pacific Industries for the wood to build the longboards; Clampers for officiating; Jim and Pam Babbitt for registration and Lost Sierra Orchestra  for the excellent live music.

“There are so many people to thank,” said Rob Russell, who is an integral part of the longboard races. “We truly appreciate everyone’s teamwork assistance and we look forward to keeping the longboard races going for years to come.”

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