Why take the chairlift down at the end of the day when you can ride your snow shovel? What started with lift operators at New Mexico’s Angel Fire Resort in the 1970s grew into a tradition that has lasted over 40 years. This year’s 41st Shovel Race World Championship happens Jan. 31 – Feb. 1.
With a groomed course and a polished, size 15, aluminum grain scoop shovel, John Strader, aka the Shovelmeister, calls it “sledding on steroids.” Strader has competed all 40 years and holds the world record for top speed on a shovel, clocking 73 mph in 2001.
“When you’re sitting on your butt and literally a centimeter off the snow, you’re doing 60-70 mph, it feels like you’re doing 160. You just fly,” Strader says.
Racers sit and lean back on a basic snow shovel with their legs straddling the handle. Strader says control is a loose term—the shovel goes where it wants to. But over the years, he has figured out how to use his hands to keep the shovel from spinning out—with occasional broken fingers or a sprained wrist.
“There’s no experience necessary; anyone can come out and do it,” Strader says. “All the old-time racers love to teach new racers how to do it.”
But this is your last chance. Angel Fire has said this will be the final year of the shovel race competition. Get details at angelfireresort.com.