Competitive downhill skateboarding consists of a skateboard designed for going down hills as fast as possible. Most people know them as longboards. Downhill skateboards are usually slightly smaller than your average longboard and much stiffer enabling you to handle the bumps, speed and negotiating the twists and turns of a mountain road.
British downhill Race heat in Wales with Kurtis Dawe and Aaron skippings photo: Lightphonics
Downhill skateboards can range from very cheap up thousands for a top of the range setup. The equipment is slightly more advanced than your regular skateboard. Urethane wheels needed for gripping the road are much higher quality as are the precision aluminium CNC cut trucks.
The boards can be made from carbon fibre if your pockets are deep, but for those not serious about racing you can pick them up fairly cheap at places such as Board Logic. Everything together really makes a difference to your ride and the handling quality when bombing down a hill. Competitive downhill skateboarding sees speeds of well over 70 mph, with the current world record at 91 mph held by a Brit.
Competitive downhill skateboarding has been happening for a many years and even made it onto the X Games in the late nineties where it was televised to the world. Below you can see the late great Gary Hardwick leading Mark Golter down a run at the IGSA highland wheels extreme in Aviemore Scotland from 2001.
There is a world cup circuit run by the International Downhill Federation that happens each with races hosted all around the world. Racers compete in 4 man heats and the idea is to be first over the line at the bottom of the hill. Top 2 riders then advance into the next round until a winner is crowned.
Attending each race gives you points, with the skateboarder who has the most points and best results becoming the overall championship winner. Most riders are influenced by the hills they skate and you will see countries like Brazil and America always up the top of the board. Europeans are just as quick but travelling to all these places can be very expensive with a world tour costing easily in excess of £9000.
Here in the UK we don’t have many hills for Competitive downhill skateboarding, but the sport is still thriving. Those Brits who are into the sport tend to head to the hills of Wales and Scotland for their thrills. There is a great bunch of skaters residing here and all are very passionate about what they do. As an added bonus, skating some UK spots can really give you some amazing views which most people don’t get to see.
The British Downhill Skate League (BDSL) is a points based race league founded by Brianne collective in the UK. Races are hosted every year around the country and points go towards a final result with your top finishes counting in national and regionals.
The BDSL encourages new people to get into downhill skateboarding with a goal to grow the sport as a whole. The BDSL also encourages people to come and try luge where you lay down on the board instead of standing up. It is a much easier option than competitive downhill skateboarding with just as many thrills.
On the 16th of September 2017 British skateboarder Pete Connolly set the Guinness downhill skateboarding speed world record when he reached 91 mph. The record was set on a very steep hill in Canada attended by some of the best downhill skateboarders in the world.
Pete Connolly world record in Canada photo by Louis liberte
You can see a video of Pete Connolly’s world record attempt below:
Thanks to Aaron Skippings and Pete Connolly for writing this article and sourcing the images. If you would like to get into competitive downhill skateboarding in the UK then check out British Downhill Skateboarding: www.britishdownhillskateboarding.com. Alternatively head to the International Downhill Federation website: www.internationaldownhillfederation.org for outside the UK.