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1st Annual Donner Downhill !!
We'd like to give a BIG THANKS to George Wiant of TERRABOARD and Kevin Delaney of DIRTHEADS for the photos on this page.

1st Annual Donner Downhill

Donner Ski Ranch June 16-17 2001

by "RoadRash"

Friday afternoon, 15 June 2001. We arrive at the Donner Ski Ranch after 7 hours of northern Cali road wrangling. The high mountain air tingles our lungs as we search desperately for the track and the First Annual Donner Downhill just outside the small ski village of Norden,California.
  Josh, Pher and myself decided it was time to show some of mountainboardings best riders what a dirt-riding Humboldt boy can do so we quickly jammed the Oldsmobile with our boards and stuff and headed to the event.

I take a strong look up the main ski run and the Dual Slalom appears in my view. Sick!! There's a small gathering of folks at the parking lot though when we ask, no one seems to know where the dirtriders are.

Who are all these folks then? well, it soon becomes apparent we have blended ourselves in the midst of the huge Luge and Street skaters readying for their events on the other side of the mountain. Ok, but where's the dirt? I point to a spot just left of the chairlifts, halfway up the slopes, looks like there's something going on up that way, so I send the boys to do a little recon as i look for a parking spot.

Josh Briscoe and Pher Nicholson go traipsing up the hill, I figure it's time to kickit for a few and observe the crowds. 45 minutes later, I find myself marching up the steep slopes wondering what happened to the fellas. I find the two Dirtheads shootin the breeze with Kevin Delaney, Bill and Willie, Jeff Parker and a bunch of other dirt eatin cretins.. We made it!! We found the dirt contigent of what's to become one hella-burly competition. There's a sizable flat beside the #1 chairlift about half way up the hill. Bill's big motorhome stands out like one of the huge granite boulders that copiuosly litter this mountain here in the 7,000 foot elevation of the Sierra Nevadas.

I slide The Olds into our campspot, (convenient how they put the dirtriders off to the side up the hill and out of the way, but over the next two days it becomes very obvious why) as we slap fives all around to those we know and shake paws with those we don't. There is an energy here in the dirtriders campground, a buzz of anticipation and unleashed fury waiting to bomb one sick downhill just fifty or so yards away.

Lots of hoopla and hollerin', mostly about the dogs and this one warthog lookin' thing that's masqaurading as a dog that has some sort of hardon for any stick that moves. Being Dirtheads, we naturally gather with our teammates to get the scoop on tommorrows activities. More introductions and we meet the likes of Ryan Heumann, Chris Chrisman and the indefatigueable Sean Shinibarger, who looks like Elvis in a trainwreck. I pop a cold one as the fellas unpack the gear and take stock of their meager quiver of two XT's an old MBS and a well-used Terraboard, a couple helmets and a small compliment of pads and gloves. Our venerable team leader, Kevin Delaney shows Josh and Pher around as I take leave to the local bar and TV to watch the inevitable thrashing of the 76er's by the now World Champion Lakers.

The campground is amazingly quiet upon my return around 11pm. The only sounds heard are a few quiet converstaions eminating from the many tents scattered around and of course, the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes remind me of the riders, no lingering around here, these bugs go right at you and latch on something fierce and like the riders, there's no fear of impending doom, only a compelling need to go for it at almost any cost. A fitful nite's sleep in the Olds, filled with mosquitos and regret that I didn't join the fellas in George Winant's tent offer. He bugged out to the local hotel as the skeeters were trying to make the full buffet out of his kids. So he generously offered his wicked cool tent to the boys from Humboldt. Hmmm, does one try to find meaning in the fact that a major sponsor-type offers you his wicciup for the weekend?? We'll see....

The next morning finds a crystal sky cracking up to a hot yellow ball rising slow over the granite peaks towering all around us. I finish my morning constitutional by hiking to the top of the lifts. Just above the Big Air jump, a 15 ft tall mound of dirt over hay on what looks like a 45 degree slope of dirt and rock, there is an escarpment of solid rock. The air is very cool and crisp yet as I hike up towards it the suns rays paint a burning orange light and the rock heats up instantly. In minutes a blast of hot air reflects from the rock wall and begins to suggest that we will be baking like lizards on a rock in the shadeless heat of the Dual Slalom.

All looks good and ready for the riders to race and have fun as I make my way back to camp. Still no signs of life yet and so, put together a cuppa, fire up a smoke and grab the six-string for a lil bit o morning music to background a now blazing star yanking itself up over the horizon and into our campground. Slowly, our fearless heroes of the dirt, emerge from their cocoons, shaking off the night and getting their bearings back in place. Soon, the buzz is back and after much good cheer some chow and the smell of burnt coffee (not Bill Martell's though) everyone starts gearing up for the start of the practice runs.

The day is hot as promised earlier yet, it's a fantastic day for downhill racing. The comraderie is thick with all riders cheering each other on and heady discussions of boards and equiptment and styles and of course the gnarly rocks that glitter madly with sunshiny little faces of impending pain. The Dual track turns out to be a modified mountainbike course. It's extremely steep and hella rocky. Jagged fist size granite chunks dotted the course like a well made chocolate chip cookie. Near the top in the red track was what was soon to be known as the "deathrock", an iceberg-like affair about the size of homeplate that waited like a beartrap for any unwary riders who refused to accept it's immovable countenance. Try as they may, the deathrock beat all those who did not negotiate around it, and beat 'em good it did. Many a bloodstain would be left here in the next 48 hours only to be cleaned off by the now powder-fine dust being ground by the torment of hard wheels and pneumatics shredding the track into a true racing groove. The berms, if you want to call em that, were way too small for the steepness of the track and having been constructed just in the past few days, had no time to harden, hence what we had here was super-soft small piles of dirt and rock demarking the bends in the track and nothing more. If you thought the berm was to help you carve a line a big disappointment awaited you with a wild dusty lipover down the hill. Woe be the ones who lost their deck at this point for the board would end up carreening down the slope making for an exhausting attempt to get back on track. Ask Willie. Evewntually it was obvious to stay low and have a hand ready to grab a rail as both rider and board were best suited to taking the lipover together. And thats why God (and Skeletools) made Padding!! The intense banging on rock the dust filled faceplants and the sick air at the bottom jumps took their toll on all who braved this course. In my book, everyone who even attempted this track gets an A for courage. Those who made it unscathed after one run did not exist. This was setting up to be one killer comp and I readied the 8mm for some sick action and heavy competition.

The sponsor's party on Saturday nite was one of great food, free beer and an excellent assortment of cool folks. I felt I had to introduce myself to Biker Sherlock and found him to be very intelligent and quite open to strangers. He displayed total professionalism in the public eye and maintained an air of being "just another racer" spoiling my prejudice that he would be some kind of nose-lifting snob. We talked at length about the trade-off of weight over strength as regards a durable board that can rip downhill. I caught Kevin of the Dirtheads and Chris P of NPD puzzling over Jeff Parker's photo in the new ORB. It's a full-body pic of Jeff lookin mean down a practice run at Boulder city last April. Check it out on page 23, He's totally in black and not one sponsor logo can be seen on his person! Kev and Chris were staring at one another in nothing less than a pickled stupor as to "How did he get away with that one?". LOL The buffet the organisers setup was kill!! Fresh fruit and vegeies galore with a lot of crackers, breads, cheeses and deli meat. My bod took one look at that and screamed to me that this is exactly what the doctor ordered, so I put my feedbag on and stuffed myself good. The "corporates" turned in early, leaving the dirt folks to finish the keg accordingly. I wasn't going to spend another nite in the car so I quietly slipped into the loaner tent and kept my buds up with a healthy ration of old-timer snoring. Occaisionally, a dirtrider or three would be loudly stumbling into the campsite and drunkenly look for whatever party might still be happening. By 3 am, everything went real quiet, save for other snores eminating from the stone-still tents.
Race Day!

The morning again greeted us to the promise of another brilliantly sunny day. The high clouds melted quickly and disappeared altogether by racetime. A heavy fog of last nite's Budwieser was swatted away with the morning skeeters as everyone slowly poured themselves to the registration table and signed their bodies away to yet another grueling session of hard riding and extreme fun.

Some big names would be found at the dropoff; DeWitt, Mateyehew, Parker, both Bakers, Lee, Heumann, Kama and more all ready to duke it out down the First Annual Donner Downhill...

We began with the Dual Slalom, time trials. Van DeWitt and Eric Santiago opened things up with an immpressive first run in Xt class. Levi Garza raced his good bud, the up-and-coming Allejandro Perousian aka "Ollie" and both banged their way down the gruelling course. Then cam one of the day's biggest challenges for Josh Briscoe. Only his second event, he drew a matchup with the incomparable #1 hardwheels champ Wes Mateyehew.

Wes, who used the moniker of Way Irie for this event had his hybrid board with the "soft" hardwheels and Chris Pincetich of NPD and the head organiser of the event told Wes his board didn't qualify as an XT racer. After a bunch of whining and chest-pounding from Way Irie, Chris patronised him and allowed him to compete. So here we had the new kid, Josh, all of 16 years old and the number one guy who at 31 years and a slew of first places from every race that matters, going head-to-head. Wes thru sportsmanship out the window and let Josh go ahead until Josh spilled it at the second berm where everyone had to eat dirt as a matter of the course. Josh scrambled down the course keeping wheels down as best as anyone could hope for as Irie used his brakes for control, managing his run with an economic skill and patience knowing full well a board with brakes has total advantage over a bare bones XT. Josh was totally unfazed by any of this and simply raced his race, although you could detect a slight bit of desperation at the bottom half of the run as Way Irie took a commanding lead and headed for the finish.

Then the rest of the field of racers paired up and gave all the spectators a great show of some real sick ballsy racing. The cuts and scrapes were multiplying rapidly as one rider after another flew off berms and munched earth. Though it was obvious everyone was saving their best for the finals, still, the riders had to pull out the stops just to stay alive on the steep ski slope. The ladies put on a great qualifier, totally impressive riding from both Nancy Ng and Jill Lawler. In the end though Nancy came up tops as Jill disappeared mysteriously, leaving Nancy a bit frustrated with the easy win. Definitely a re-match is in order here!

Injuries were kept to a minimum (amazingly) Levi Garza sprained his wrist pretty good and was slinged up at the med station. Van DeWitt checked out with a huge ankle sprain and wasn't able to make the finals. That was a real bummer for me as I was truly looking forward to watching him for the finals. The guy is a killer competitor and a great dude and his style is close to a true art-form. I'm sure the consensus was that we all would miss a great finals without him, though, a huge sigh of relief that one of XT's best was out of the show, giving others a spot for the limelight.

The worst spill of the day was delivered by none other than the "old man" from Dirtheads racing team, the immpeccable Don Baker of Dirtheads. One of the oldest competitors on the cicuit today, Don who's past achievements have garnered him a spot consistently in the top five of the country's best found the bottom roller-to-step down as some sort of Big Air opportunity, kicked his board up in front and overhead. I was standing not ten feet away as Baker went totally vert, wheels up and came crashing head/shoulder/rib down. A 4.3 on the richter scale was recorded as Don slammed hard to the track. He was completely motionless as I ran toward the lifeless body in the green full-face. I was first on the scene and looked inside his helmet only to find a non-breathing Sweat-soaked pain-streaked face. Apparently he had passed out just after feeling the pain as his face indicated much discomfort yet, he wouldn't respond to me and was not breathing. I slowly removed the shades half-cocked from his nose and saw the blood trickling from behind his left eye. That's when I motioned to anyone down the hill to bring some med help fast. Others soon arrived and Don began to show signs of life by grunting and breathing erradically. What a mess. I couldn't beleive it but this guy actually shook it off after about 5 minutes and we helped him on to his feet and a couple guys walked him down to the med booth. What a tough dude.... needless to say, that was the end of his day at Donner Downhill. The Dual Slalom ended shortly thereafter and
UPDATE::6-23:: Good word has it that Don's doing fine and the doc checked him good to go...Thanks Don! A long intermission preceeded the Big Air event.

Though it took a few hours for the Big Air to be had, it went fast and furious as riders hurled themselves over the 15 ft ramp and launched atmospheric tricks much to the delight of the largish crowd gathered to watch. Cameras clicked, whirred and shutters snapped all the while as some of the craziest and wildest showmen gave us a generous helping of Big Air and painstaking plants.

Way Irie stepped out of the comp due to injury.

Jason Lee was totally impressive as he stuck each and every one of his backflips. Jack Driver showed us how to do the "Oh Shit" by catching big vert and losing concentration (it was the blonde is my guess) on the way up, hunching his shoulders and attacking the landing like he was breaking down a door. Well of course, the "door" is made of 8,000 miles of solid earth and hence, tough-as-nails Jack couldn't open it! Another 4.3 on the richter scale indicated Jack's solid splat and to everyone's amazement, he shook it off quick and cleared the way for the next rider.

Art Coulson showed world-class spirit as he started out slow and easy, but with every jump got better and better and showed some real style by the final attempt. Eric Santiago, a class act in himself, gave us all a real whoop by using a gymnastics move (hmmmm...a good way to invent new stuff) and front-flipped-twisted over the hump and onto his side. Hey, he almost stuck that one and he probably would have ended up in first for originality and style. Keep working on that one Eric, it'll pay off!! Then of course there was mountainboard's own "Pretty Boy", Akoni Kama. This guy has got the full package folks. Yea sure, we all know the shutter bugs love him for his nifty looks, smooth styling and religious adherence to the tri-wheeled Outback board that may soon become his trademark. However, Akoni demonstrated a professional quality and focused demeanor of the Biker Sherlock ilk appreciated the night before. Get past his handsome DNA and you won't find another guy who has such passion, grace and skill as Akoni Kama. Tougher than the granite that pounded him mercilessly all day, Kama plugged away at what one would call a "bad day". His 180 on the Big Air was soulful and had purpose, as most of us didn't believe he could actually stick one on that Outback. And of course big honorable mention goes to the clown trick of the day and the weekend-long buzz of Sean Shinibarger (hope I spelled it right) sticking a sick Banquet Air with his sidekick Budwieser in hand.

But the hero of the day would eventually be shared by two reps from the Humboldt County area.

Levi Garza, looking mean and altogether too serious, was scratched from the Big Air event earlier in the day because of the sling wrapping his arm. He couldn't accept it so he did what it took to change it.

By the time Big Air rolled around, Levi had slowly, methodically shed his bandages. He convinced the race officials to get him back in the comp and he went up against some premier XT jumpers. Now i'm a bit partial to one Josh Briscoe from Humboldt, the main threat to first place in XT class, but Levi too is a homie from SoHum, as we call it, and this was whom he had to beat. Josh did great in practice attempts but fell a tad short in his three finals attempts. His last jumped may have sealed it for him but his deck slipped away from under and his sweet trademark method opening the door for Levi. And indeed Levi came through with a vertical magic that instructed the judges to solidly proclaim him the big winner in XT. T

he other hero hailing from SoHum was none other than Pher Nicholson. The only rider to complete the 540 all day. Effortlessly he spun us up to whoops n hollers of delight as he plied his arial wizardry with a natural flow of style and finesse. Overheard at the jump was Jason Lee being greatful Pher didn't sign up for pro class. Hence, Pher easily took first place Am by snapping off his signature 540 for about the fifth time that session! Ryan Heumann took a solid second with a sick 360 and more.

The awards ceremony went down smooth with all four SoHum riders coming away with a win. Dirtheads Racing Team members Josh, Pher and Jeff Kindt showed podiumface as well. Big huge thanks to Chris Pincetich at NPD Landboards for executing the details of this event. A big round thanks to all those who got this event off the ground and into the history books!

See race results at right --- >

Sick HardWheel Decks


"Have You ever launched 8-10 feet of air on a Terraboard FL-117, pulling a big 360 grab? NO!!?? Well, I have! at Donner Ski Ranch on June 16-17. The lip, at about 8 feet tall. The table about 5 feet long and the landing sloping down to a good 15 feet, making this jump a good-size jump! The runway was a very good inclination and rather smooth. The SHOCKTRUCKS © help me stabilize my approach while the light deck gives me a more comfortable launch. the wide trucks plus the flexy deck gives me a cushiony landing."  ............ Pher
To find out more about these boards, goto TERRABOARD.NET



"Donner Pass event had the Most Crazy Slalom I have seen yet! What made it crazy was the berms were so small! You would slam into them with great speed and tumble right over it. But it was still fun. The Big Air Jump was the better hit, it was a nice big launch. I WISH!! I had some thing like that in my backyard."   ....Josh

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First Annual Donner Downhill
Race Results June 16-17 2001

XT Wheels Open
  • 1. Way Irie
  • 2. Josh Briscoe
  • 3. Alijandro Perussian
Levi Garza injured in Semifinals   Jeff Parker and Van DeWitt injured in qualifying

Under 18 AM
  • 1. Jeff Kindt
  • 2. Ross Baker
  • 3. Nick Copeland
  • 4. Willy Martel

Over 18 AM
  • 1. Eric Santiago
  • 2. Chris Hoffer
  • 3. Ryan Heumann
  • 4. Jason Schroeder
  • 5. Evan Trujillo
Hank Caruthers DNF Jeff Parker and Dan Dworkin injured in qualifying

  • 1. Nancy Ng
  • 2. Jill Lawler

Pro Open
  • 1. Way Irie
  • 2. Jason Lee
  • 3. Trevor Brown
  • 4. Justin Hawxhurst
  • 5. Josh Knepper
  • 6. George Wiant
  • 7. Don Baker
  • 8. Luke Logan
  • 9. Rob Kindt
  • 10. Mike Reiniehl
  • 11. Akoni Kama
  • 12. Jack Driver
  • 13. Jordon Ourada
  • 14. Chris Pincetich
Ben Luther injured in qualifying

XT Wheelz Open

  • 1. Levi Garza
  • 2. Josh Briscoe

Under 18 AM
  • 1. Ross Baker
  • 2. Jeff Kindt
  • 3. Josh Briscoe
  • 4. Willy Martel

Over 18 AM
  • 1. Pher Nicholson
  • 2. Ryan Heumann
  • 3. Evan Trujillo
  • 4. Eric Santiago
  • 5. Chris Chrisman
  • 6. Art Coulston

Pro Open
  • 1. Jason Lee
  • 2. Sean Shinabargar
  • 3. Akoni Kama
  • 4. Josh Knepper
  • 5. Jordon Ourada
  • 6. Jack Driver
Way Irie and Luke Logan injured in qualifying

Race Results courtesy of Chris Pincetich at NPD
Da Winnas!!!
Say Cheese!

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