Scenic

The Santa Gnarbara Downhill Recap

Having not been up to Santa Barbara in awhile, I took full advantage of the opportunity to ditch the Los Angeles sprawl for a weekend escape to the mountains. In what turned out to be exactly what I needed, I drove up Saturday morning and skated the whole day away. The event which inspired my joyous pilgrimage to the looming peaks of the Santa Barbara range was the Santa Gnarbara race. In past years it has existed as an unsanctioned event. A rogue assembly of skaters and thrill seekers, hell bent on blasting down the winding and twisting ridge roads of that mountainous expanse while also soaking in the stunning sights of a truly unique location. However, this year, in contrast to years past, the race was now sanctioned, making it immune to the wet blanket’esque pitfalls of a uncompromising law enforcement.

Camping on the mountain.

Camping on the mountain.

Camping beneath the stars with race day looming.

An evening spent beneath a sea of stars with race day looming.

Rise and shine, a wonderful place to wake up.

Rise and shine, a wonderful place to wake up.

The race this year got off to a slow start. Lazily kicking off Sunday morning with one solid run of practice, the initial ladies, groms, and open class heats began. Groups of four tore their way down the familiar ribbony track, first encountering a long arching left straight into a tighter section of numerous left and right corners before finally concluding in a slight left uphill section just after a dirt turnout. A fun and challenging track kept riders on their toes, setting the stage for tight packs and numerous fantastic racing moments.

A spectacular setting, the Santa Gnarbara race is quite literally, above the clouds.

A spectacular setting, the Santa Gnarbara race is quite literally, above the clouds.

Sponsor tents.

Sponsor tents.

9am, race day, the first shuttle to the top.

9am, race day, the first shuttle to the top.

The party gets rollin.

The party gets rollin.

The arm behind the knee technique, moar aero.

The arm behind the knee technique, moar aero.

Pack run.

Pack run.

Aerolid.

Aerolid.

As the day went on, one by one, riders who didn’t make it into the next heat either retired to gaze out at the breath taking sights, or jumped into freeriding pack runs that ran after the main race heats. It was to be a full day of nonstop downhill skateboarding action, festoon with brightly colored leathers, sponsor patches, and the occasional aerolid.

K-Rimes leading the pack down the scenic straight.

K-Rimes leading the pack down the scenic straight.

...with the Shaka.

…with the Shaka.

Small and nimble, Jasper Ohlson was smoking kids twice his size.

Small and nimble, Jasper Ohlson was smoking kids twice his size.

Keeping pace.

Keeping pace.

The only skate face in the game more terrifying than Mischo.

The only skate face in the game more terrifying than Mischo.

The crash corner.

The crash corner.

Downhill skateboarding has a painful learning curve.

Downhill skateboarding has a painful learning curve.

Survival of the fittest.

Survival of the fittest.

Muirskate's Joe Gutkowski.

Muirskate’s Joe Gutkowski.

Neck and neck.

Neck and neck.

Stickin it.

Stickin it.

K-Rimes getting small through the corner.

K-Rimes getting small through the corner.

As the finals drew nearer, riders eliminated began to make their way to the finish line.

As the finals drew nearer, riders eliminated began to make their way to the finish line.

Something of a rarity, a genuine P-Swiss crash sequence.

The finals saw P-Swiss take a dive for the outside after rubbing wheels with R-Rimes.

Men's podium.

Men’s podium.

In true Santa Gnarbara fashion, the finals were as eventful as always, with the last heat stacking up to be a four way battle for first place between Jimmy Riha, Aj Halby, Patrick Switzer, and Kevin Reimer. After an intense clash for the lead in the last corner left P-Swiss in the bales, it was, in the end, the ever so quick Reimer who secured the first place finish. It had been tight, heated racing at its best, exactly what spectators and riders alike have grown to expect from the mighty Santa Gnarbara races. Another year of skating, another year of racing. Another year spent under the sun and above the clouds. My only complaint? That this event only comes around once a year.

Thanks for reading, now go skate. 

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