Skaters Young and Old Take to the Drainage Ditches in Annual Contest
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — This city is best known for a couple of things: Green chilies and the balloon fiesta. To a certain crowd, however, it is the crown jewel of skateable concrete ditches.
“It’s like a wonder of the world, or a Mecca,” says Robin McGuirk, 35, who came all the way from Portland, Oregon, to join 70 or so other longboarders from across North America for an annual competition colloquially known as Ditch Slap.
For a full week earlier this month, skaters aged 14 to 50-plus tore through the city’s concrete drainage ditches, participating in events such as a banked ditch bordercross, a giant banked ditch slalom and a series of school-bus-ferried freeride runs, which are the
skating equivalent of helicopter skiing.
“There is really no place like Albuquerque,” says McGuirk.
Ditch Slap is the brainchild of Joe Lehm and started in 2007. Lehm, who owns a skate shop and skate school in Santa Fe, once organized nationally known downhill events but grew tired of that. Looking for something new, he decided to throw his efforts behind an event that would capitalize on Albuquerque’s unique ditches.
Lehm, 50, grew up outside Albuquerque and says local skaters have been riding the concrete channels since the late 1970s. Today they’re favored among longboarders worldwide who enjoy carving perfectly transitioned banks that run for miles.
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