Longboard skateboarding is one of those pastimes that can go from casual to intense, from slacker recreational activity to high-speed, high-risk athletic pursuit, with just a few degrees of slope. You can ride a longboard to the beach in your flip-flops, or don a helmet and full-body leather suit to protect against broken bones and grazes as you tackle steep and winding roads.
All aspects of the sport will be on display this week with the return of the second annual Whistler Longboard Festival. There are two major events on the schedule, starting with today's (Thursday, July 12) Skate X Shoot presented by Rayne Longboards at Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley.
The first part of the day is a 20km longboard race, which is open to everyone ages 10 and up. The course is not technical and even beginners should be able to finish the event in a few hours. Registration is available after 8 a.m. and there are starts at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Next up is the main event, the world's first longboard biathlon. Athletes will take on a 10km course, looping around on undulating paved trails in the park and stopping by the range to fire .22 caliber rifles. Every shot counts so skaters are advised to take their time.
The first round of racing gets underway at 10:30 a.m. with rifle safety and orientation, as well as practice, with the first heat leaving at 11:30 a.m.
You can register until 1 p.m. for the second race, with orientation getting underway at 1:30 p.m. and a 2:30 p.m. start. The podium is at 4:30 p.m.
As a first year event, Cation is happy that 80 people have registered for today's competitions.
"I would have like to have blown up out of the gates, but like any first year event awareness is the biggest hurdle," he said. "We're really just navigating our way, and the fact that it's on Thursday is a bit frustrating for some people that work. But at the same time we wanted to keep things at a manageable level so we can execute it properly, so this year is really an investment. Hopefully next year we'll bring it back and put it on the weekend so we can make it even bigger."
The main event of the festival is the Whistler Sliding Centre Downhill presented by Arbor Skateboards, which runs July 13 to July 15. July 13 is a rider-only day for practicing and course inspection, although spectators are invited to watch the second day of training on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Blackcomb.
The racing takes place on Sunday with the first elimination rounds getting underway at 10 a.m., progressing through the day to the finals at 3 p.m.