Two Colorado athletes say their mountain roots will serve them well as they race down a pass in Argentina this week—not on skis or snowboards, but on skateboards.
Both Loryn Roberson, senior communications manager at Copper Mountain Ski Resort, and Daniel Minsky, a ski patroller at Eldora Mountain Ski Resort, will compete in downhill skateboarding at the World Skate Games. The course, which descends a mountain pass outside San Juan, makes three big switchbacks before straightening out into a fast run toward the finish line.
Roberson, 30, never stepped on a skateboard until she bought one to get to class at Central Michigan University. She organized a longboard club and fashioned cutting boards into slide gloves to protect her hands when she put them down to maintain balance on corners. She entered her first race because she wanted to skate on a closed road lined with hay bales as a safety net. In 2015, she competed third in the world on the international circuit.
She gave up racing five years ago to focus on her career, but this April, looking again for a safe place to go fast, she placed in a qualifier for Team USA. One race later, she clinched her spot on the team.
When she lines up at the start in Argentina, she’ll be wearing a lightweight race suit made of kangaroo leather, a full-face helmet, and a lot of attitude.
“This course is what we consider ‘all grip.’ If skated correctly, we won’t have to slide or break for any corners,” she says. “My strategy has always been to find that sweet spot where I don’t crash but skate as fast as I can go.”
Roberson says she and Minsky will have an advantage coming from higher altitude. “We’re going to have stronger stamina, specifically on the push,” she says. “When we get the green light, we can kick as hard as can before get into a tuck on the road.”
Elite skaters in the discipline have topped 90 mph on fast courses. Both Roberson and Minsky have hit 70 mph.
“When you’re on your board and going that fast, the only thing you can focus on is that moment and what you’re doing,” Roberson says. “Just the road in front of you and the speed and adrenalin is the most amazing feeling.”
Minsky, 22, got hooked after his parents gave him a skateboard when he finished fifth grade. “I cruised around town, bombing little hills,” he says.
Today he compares downhill skateboarding to snow skiing. “After a while it becomes a flow, you feel so fluid and smooth,” he says. “It’s a really cool feeling to be super stable and comfortable going that fast.”
Training runs begin today, Nov. 9, followed by qualifying heats. Finals are set for Nov. 12. Look for an update on how they did in the December print issue of Elevation Outdoors.
Top photo by Andrew Maguire