My Excuse: Notes On Not Racing

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Micah Green at Pike’s Peak

I really enjoy riding skateboards down hills. I don’t race because I don’t like it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a great fan of skateboard racing. It’s fun to watch and root for my favorite riders, and everyone likes to see someone walk away from a spectacular crash. I just don’t want to do it anymore.

Until recently, downhill skateboarding and racing were the same thing. If you rode downhill, you raced. I was deep into downhill skateboarding, so I went to races and competed, but the racing was never that important to me.

I decided to stop racing earlier this year, after Maryhill. Entry fees and wheels just seemed like a waste of my sponsors’ money when I’m clearly not a competitive racer, and racing is a bad use of my time when I could do more good behind a camera.

While I definitely enjoy skating fast and tight with my friends, riding my skateboard through corners at 50mph is dangerous enough without random strangers trying to pass me in every corner. I don’t want to win badly enough to be willing to crash—I’m more “let’s just have a fun run and make it down in one piece” than “I’d rather crash and get fourth than go through clean and get second.”

Which brings me to the next thing: I don’t like the competition. I was initially attracted to skateboarding because there are no rules and it is fundamentally noncompetitive. You can do whatever you want with the board. Nobody wins or loses. However you want to skate, that’s cool. Style is subjective and being good just means you can do what you want, how you want.

With the exception of the equipment, racing has nothing to do with those things that initially attracted me to skateboarding. It is fundamentally competitive and governed by a set of written rules (those rules are often broken by top riders, who get away with tactics that would disqualify most riders). Success at a high level depends on a willingness to ride aggressively and risk injuring myself and other riders.

My style doesn’t really lend itself to racing. Some folks like to haul maximum ass down every hill they skate. I am not one of them. I’d rather carve and keep my hands up.

Besides, racing is crazy hard now. While I can usually keep up with the good dudes, that certainly doesn’t mean I’m as good as they are. It’s much easier to be a good photographer than a good racer, and the camera gives me a good excuse to hang out.

I still get to travel and skate closed roads with hay—there are more freeride events nowadays and some race organizers will let me skate on the practice days for a reduced entry fee—but I don’t have to stand on the starting line hating my life.