By Tommy Sherk
Lars Troutwine, longboard racer
LT: Me and my brother used to just regular skateboard through elementary school. In middle school, [my friend] got the coolest longboard I ever saw, so I picked it up and just kept going with it. Long boarding is faster than skateboarding. It’s more of an adrenaline rush. In September, I’ll go to a race on a mountain in Colorado, Pike’s Peak. We have a race down that, and your speed during the whole race is like 65 mph. You have hay bails stacked up around the corners. It’s really intimidating and scary, but so rewarding every time you get down safely.
I ride for a board company out of Texas called BombSquad. We have riders nationwide, and a couple in Norway. We go to races, and sometimes there are cash prizes. We probably have 30 races in the U.S., a couple in Asia, a couple in South Africa, New Zealand. I really like skating for where I can go with it. I went to Arkansas for a meet-up with Midwest members. The pros and amateurs met up and we camped out for four days. We camp on top of a mountain and skate down during the day.
How scared were you the first race?
LT: Oh, every time you go to a new race or new hill, it’s very intimidating. If you’re around all of the pros, they’ll kind of make you do it, even if you’re not comfortable doing it. You can’t get really hurt, but you can get hurt. In the races, all of the roads are closed, so there’s no traffic. But skating around down in Arkansas’ farmland, there are tractors going up and there aren’t hay bails on all of the corners, so you can hit guardrails. A guy I was skating with snapped his ankle in three places last weekend.
The ultimate goal for racing is to try your best to get down as fast as possible. Every run, you’re timed. But in Arkansas, we’re with a bunch of people and we’re just trying to have a good time. When we travel, and we aren’t competing, we’ll just hang out. Half of the time we’ll skate and half the time we just lurk…pretty heavy.
The competition part is really fun, but also really serious. You kind of have to have a job in the skating industry to be able to travel to every race, and it gets pretty expensive. I just mow grass. I don’t go to as many races as I possibly could, but I try to make it out to at least one a month.
I’ve fallen pretty badly, but not terrible. A couple of my friends have hit guardrails and have snapped their vertebrates. Road rash doesn’t hurt as bad, they’re just little burns you get.
Do you think it’s worth the risk?
LT: Yeah. It’s such a rush. Some people think of it as worthless, but if you can manage to have a good job when you grow up and still are able to go skate, that’d be a fun weekend hobby. As I get older and go to college, it’ll probably become more of a hobby. I’ll try to make it through college and get a job in the industry. Then I’ll be able to travel. Of course parents will think it’s a waste of time, but it’s too fun.
What goes through your head going 65 mph down a hill?
LT: It’s honestly kind of calm. You’re in your own mindset, just trying to make it through every time. It’s really fun if you’re mobbing with all these people — you can go down five at a time. It can be pretty sketchy at 60, but it’s so fun. At the end of the run, everybody is giving each other high fives.