Vail Valley skaters ‘Blaze the Belt’ in Leadville
Vail, CO Colorado
LEADVILLE, Colorado – The Second annual Blaze the Belt was held in Leadville Sunday under true Colorado weather.
It rained, it snowed, and the sun shown down on more than 30 contestants in perhaps the highest downhill race to hit North America. The course twisted through the Frisbee Golf Course of Leadville for about 6.5 miles down the Mineral Belt Bike Path. The course was labeled by the participants as a blue square difficulty range within the turns.
The flat areas made for difficulty in endurance levels as the skaters had to pump through to keep speed for the next downhill section. Signs were posted throughout the course cautioning the athletes of sharp turns and other cyclists. Participants came from surrounding areas as far as Durango and Buena Vista with the cancellation of the Durango Downhill and Slalom Skate Jam. The divisions varied with rollerblades, street/ park boards, but mostly of long boards and luges.
For $15 participants received a time trial bib and an opportunity to win some pretty sweat swag donated by the many sponsors of the event. They also helped fix up the Leadville Skate Park with some of the proceeds.
The winner of this years time trial was Paul Bassinthwaite of Buena Vista,. A dad of six boys, Paul was surfing the asphalt on a Never Summer Eclipse Deck and Big Zig wheels. Paul went home with several prizes including a Durango Boards deck.
I interviewed two downhillers from Eagle County about their concerns and expectations of the day.
Justin McCarty said that he was hoping for no wind, any kind of a head wind makes speed difficult.
I asked Mike Schranz, of West Vail, what he had done to prepare for the race day.
“Skate, Skate, Skate…. and I attached cutting boards to my gloves making sliding gloves. I was cleaning out my basement yesterday and found these pants and made them into my newest pair of skating shorts.”
Mike had made his pants in the classic grab and cut style, with jagged uneven hacking to rid him of excess material that could be caught by the wind.
“I wish that Vail would close down roads like Potato Patch for races, that would be great. They closed Look Out Mountain on Mother’s Day last May, that’s a killer course.”
Leadville Lake County Fire and Rescue were on sight, along with other spectators, at the highest speed curve in the path to help with any carnage that may have ensued. Several participants went down on the difficult bend, but all were able to ride it off and show their battle wounds at the after party on the patio of the Tennessee Pass Cafe where a keg of PBR (adults only) and pizza was donated.
Donny Conner of Leadville put the event together by working with Partners of Lake County Rec.’s Skate Park Division and wrangling up a number of sponsors. Many thanks to: Tennessee Pass Cafe, Melanzana, Sawatch Backcountry, BCConsulting, Durango Boards, St. Vincent Hospital, The Ugly Cookie Comp., Community Threads, artcurrents.com and other local supporters.