MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS: Snowskate competition ‘brings back days of old’

IT MUST BE spring: The waiting list for bike repairs is one-week long at Sound Bikes and Kayaks in Port Angeles.

Luckily, the last vestige of winter — Strapless Weekend atop Hurricane Ridge — should be enough to keep Peninsulites company while they wait on that wobbly wheel this Saturday and Sunday.

The way area snowsport historian Frank Crippen tells it, the two-day snow­skate event harkens back to a simpler age when man, woman and child were unencumbered by bindings and other trappings of the modern snowboard scene.

“In times gone by, these enlightened strap-free warriors would gather in the shadows of Mount Olympus and compete in games involving speed and gravity-defying tricks,” said Crippen, passing on an untold oral history.

“The modern Snowskate Olympics are intended to bring back the days of old in a two-day gathering of the tribe.”

A sport still in its infancy in terms of mass appeal, snow­skating combines elements of snowboarding with that of skateboarding.

Boards resemble its four-wheel counterparts, except a snowboard is attached to the bottom rather than wheels.

Also, as the event name denotes, there are no bindings.

Thus, the only thing keeping riders attached to their boards is their own guile and grasp of Earth’s gravitational pull.

Crippen promises some of the “world’s best snow­skaters” will compete in Strapless Weekend (aka the Snowskate Olympics), including a few sponsored riders.

Set for Saturday and Sunday in the “Olympic Snowskate Arena” at Hurricane Ridge, it will include a number of different competitions.

The North By Northwest Masters of Snowskating Freeride will be held Saturday morning at 10 a.m., with the Snowskate Park Jam set for 1 p.m. the same day in the Terrain Park.

The Snowskate Powder Downhill is Sunday at 10 a.m., and the Almost Legendary Snowskate Baked Slalom closes things out at 1 p.m.

While some events emphasize tricks and showmanship (e.g., the Park Jam), others will be an all-out race for Olympic glory (e.g., the aptly-named Baked Slalom). Each is open to the public.

Free demos will also be on hand for anyone wishing to give the sport a try or compete against the best and brightest of the snow­skate world.

“It’s tough but it’s not tough,” said Crippen, owner of North by Northwest Surf Co., 902 S. Lincoln St. in Port Angeles.

“We had a ranger up there [Wednesday], and she picked it up pretty quick.

“It’s like anything: It’s easy to do; it’s just not easy to do well.”

A total of $1,000 in cash will be up for grabs as well as a “swag bag” of prizes.

The winner of the Park Jam will take home $700, while the Baked Slalom champion walks away with $300.

Winners in the two other events will get prizes.

The entry fee is $20 for two days and $15 for one.

Also tied into the weekend is a special musical production from the T-Bagging Bandits — possibly a right-wing rock band — on Saturday night at the Coo Coo’s Nest, 1017 E. Front St. in Port Angeles.

Whittaker speaks

In keeping with the snow theme, Port Townsend’s Leif Whittaker will give a special presentation of his alpine mountain climbing exploits Tuesday in Port Angeles.

The son of famous mountaineer Jim Whittaker — the first American to summit the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest — Leif has led his own life of high-altitude exploration in recent years.

In fact, Leif followed in his father’s footsteps by summiting Everest himself a year ago.

At Tuesday night’s event, he will share stories, photographs and video from that expedition as well as others atop the highest peaks in Antarctica and South America.

The presentation is set for 7 p.m. at the Peninsula College Little Theater, 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

“I learned how to climb in the Olympic Mountains,” Leif Whittaker said in a news release. “I owe so much to that place.

“It will be wonderful to present my story to the people that live right beneath those mountains.”

The slide show presentation will be followed by a short question and answer session.

Tickets cost $20 and are available at Necessities and Temptations and North by Northwest Surf Shop in Port Angeles and Brian’s Sporting Goods and More in Sequim.

There will also be tickets on sale at the door the night of the event for $25.Seating is limited so advance purchase is recommended.

Proceeds benefit the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Education Fund.


Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at

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