Historic longboard races test determination and ‘dope’

Bill A. Aaron and Amy Edgett
Photos courtesy Bill A. AaronPhotos courtesy Bill A. Aaron

QUINCY, Calif. – The Plumas Ski Club, out of Quincy, Calif. held the first in a series of three annual races for Winter 2013: Historic Longboard Revival Series. Men and women gathered at the Plumas Eureka State Park in Johnsville, Calif., to match speed with history. The ski length can range from 10 to 14 feet, sometimes longer. “The skis are very difficult to turn, so you have to have a lot of nerve and a good run-out,” one skier said.

Some claim the first downhill races in the Western Hemisphere were held in Plumas County. Gold was discovered on the east side of Gold Mountain, now called Eureka Peak, in May 1851. The longboards, often carved from heavy Douglas fir, were a form of winter transportation in the snowbound Sierra.

Mining towns formed teams to compete against one another, with Creed Raymond founding the Alturas Snowshoe Club at La Porte in late 1866.

“Doping the boards involves applying concoctions of tree oils, pine pitch, turpentine, and even the brow of the sperm whale, as well as other ingredients to the ski bottoms,” wrote Mark McLaughlin, aka The Storm King. “The recipes to these waxy substances were closely guarded secrets among 19th century dopemakers, a tradition that continues today.”

A Winter SnowFest event Feb.14-18 will include historic longboard races Feb. 17. Visit and for information.

The Eastern Plumas Recreation District (EPRD) invites you to participate in the 20th annual Johnny Redstreake SnowBall, once again honoring storied Johnsville native and undefeated Longboard champion Johnny Redstreake (1911-81) on March 2 at the Nakoma Golf Resort near Graeagle, Calif. Visit

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