Shovel Racing 

  • Time to read: 7 min.
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Shovel racing is a sport where competitors race down a hill on shovels. It is similar to sledding, but competitors use shovels instead of a sled. Shovel racing is a timed event, with each competitor racing down the course as fast as possible. The winner is the shoveler with the fastest time. 

Shovel racing is not an expensive sport, and it is an adrenaline rush. You sit on the shovel as if you are in a luge, surrounded by air, with no walls, so it feels like you are going twice the speed when your speed increases.

Table of Contents

The History Of Shovel Racing

Shovel racing originated in the 1970s in Crested Butte, Colorado. At that time, lift operators would shovel their way down the hill after a day’s work as it was a quicker, easier and fun way to get down the mountain, and it soon became a competitive sport. 

The shovel racing season typically runs from December through March, so now is the perfect time to get started. 

Benefits Of Shovel Racing

  • There are several reasons why shovel racing is becoming so popular:
  • It is a very accessible sport as it only requires a shovel, a hill, and some willingness to give it a go.
  • It is relatively inexpensive to start as no special equipment is required other than a shovel and hill.
  • It’s a great leisure activity to share with family and friends. 
  • Shovel racing is an excellent full-body workout as it combines cardio and strength training. It is also a perfect workout for your core and legs.
  • Shovel racing is a great way to meet new people and make friends.
  • Shovel racing is a great way to challenge yourself physically and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
  • It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get fresh air.
  • It is a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind.
  • It’s just plain fun. Shovel racing is an activity that everyone can enjoy. 

Tips To Help You Start Shovel Racing

  1. Make sure you have a shovel designed for racing. These shovels are lightweight and have unique handles that help you go faster.
  2. Choose a not too steep hill with an excellent run-out area at the bottom. You don’t want to end up in a snowbank.
  3. Dress for the conditions. Wear layers to stay warm, and consider wearing goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind and snow. Lastly, you may wear a helmet to protect your head if a wipeout occurs.

Then, line up at the top of the hill, wait for the signal to start, and shovel your way down the mountain as fast as possible. Shovel around obstacles and avoid going off the sides of the hill until you reach the bottom and cross the finish line.

The Best Type Of Hill To Race Shovels?

  • The best type of hill to shovel races has these qualities:
  • You want to find a mountain or hill that is not too steep and has a good run-out area at the bottom. You don’t want to end up in a ditch or tree after an exhilarating ride.
  • You want to find a place that is well-groomed and free of obstacles.
  • You want to find a place that has good snow conditions.
  • Have a smooth hill with no debris or trees.
  • Make sure you have a nice long run out at the end of the hill and have enough room to stop, as it takes about a hundred yards.

The Best Places To Race Shovels?

Some of the best places to shovel race are Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. These states have many hills and mountains, so you can find an excellent spot to race. They also generally have good snow conditions. 

Other good places to shovel race include Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. These countries also have plenty of hills and mountains, and they usually have good snow conditions. So, if you’re looking for other good places to shovel race, consider Canada, Japan, or New Zealand.

Finally, if you want to try shovel racing but don’t want to travel far, the United States has plenty of good places to shovel race. States like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have many hills and mountains, usually having good snow conditions. 

Do Ski Hills Allow Shovels For Racing?

Ski Hills do not allow shovels for racing on the ski hills daily as the shovel ruins the ski hills grooming for skiing and snowboarding.  

Shovel racing was once an event in the Winter X Games held at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, USA, but was removed due to safety concerns. The World Championship of the Winter X games was the most prestigious shovel racing event globally and attracted competitors from all over the globe. The championships were open to anyone who wanted to compete, and there was no qualifying process. 

The races took place on a specially-designed course closed off to skiers and snowboarders, usually around 1,000 feet long, and had several turns and jumps.

The Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico held yearly competitions until 2020. Today the sport is mainly seen at community festivals like the Beaver County Snow Shovel Riding Championship, and the competitive sport aspect has fallen by the wayside. Perhaps the sport will retake hold in time.

How To Train For A Shovel Race

The best way to prepare your shovel for racing is to practice shoveling in different conditions to know how it handles different kinds of snow. As there is no specific training required for shovel racing, there are a few things you can do to improve your skills:

  1. Practice shoveling in different conditions as this will help you learn how to shovel in different kinds of snow and make you faster and more efficient.
  2. Try racing against friends or family members to race, and it will give you some competition.
  3. Try practicing on different types of hills to learn how to navigate different kinds of terrain. 

Is A Plastic Or Metal Shovel Better For Shovel Racing?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on personal preference. For example, some people find that plastic shovels are lighter and easier to maneuver, while others find that metal shovels provide more stability and are less likely to break. However, if you want to become a professional racer or partake in a championship run, the course requires a metal shovel.

Do The Shovels Get Waxed For Racing?

Though many people do, the shovel does not need waxing for racing. Waxing the shovel can make them more challenging to control. The best way to prepare your shovel for racing is to practice shoveling in different conditions to know how it handles in different kinds of snow.

How Dangerous Is Shovel Racing

Shovel racing is not any more dangerous than snowboarding or skiing. However, it appears unsafe, and some would say extreme, as it is unlike skiing or snowboarding; you are on the ground, so you don’t have anywhere to fall. Shovel racing is challenging as you cannot control or turn where the shovel goes, which makes this a fall line sport, which means the shovel goes where gravity and the path state it will go. This lack of control over the shovel is where the dangerous part exists, so if the hill’s design is not made for shovel racing, one could quickly fly off the hill or mountain into a tree or a rock.

How Scary Is Shovel Racing?

The biggest concern when racing is the size of the snow wall created for the shovel race. The snow wall protects people by keeping the shovel and rider within a defined space, but it will hurt if the shovel rider was to hit the wall at top speed. Hitting the wall is the scary part about racing.

While shovel racing may look dangerous, it is no more difficult than skiing or snowboarding. The most significant danger in shovel racing is hitting the snow wall at high speed.

How To Avoid Injury When Shovel Racing?

To avoid injury when shovel racing:

  • Make sure the hill you are shovel racing down is not too steep. A good rule of thumb is that the slope should be 30 degrees.
  • Wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, goggles, and gloves.
  • Use a shovel that is designed for shovel racing.
  • Practice proper form when shoveling.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for other competitors.
  • Listen to the race officials and follow their instructions.
  • If you see danger, roll off the shovel as you cannot turn. When you do roll-off, you will keep sliding due to your speed.

How To Slow Down Your Shovel?

Shovel racing is a fall-line sport as you have little control. However, to stop you need to sit up and put your feet down to slow down your shovel. You will get snow flying up and a face full of snow doing this due to the speed you are going, but the shovel will slow down. Next, you pull the shovel out from under you. Alternatively, you can roll off the shovel and slow yourself down to a stop. Grabbing the shovel handle and pulling up on the handle will not stop the shovel and may result in the handle breaking or the shovel blade bending, which renders the shovel useless.

You may find it cold shovel racing so consider wearing heated clothing. Our guide will help direct you to the best options for you.

The Shovel Of Choice For Racing

Some of the best shovels for shovel racing are made by companies like Black Diamond. These companies make shovels specifically for racing, so you know they will be lightweight and easy to maneuver. They also make durable shovels that can stand up to the rigors of racing. So, if you’re looking for the best shovels for shovel racing, consider:

Final Thoughts

Shovel racing is an extreme sport that may come back and something you may see in the Olympics futuristically. Historically shovels were utilized as sleds so this implement has always been a go to item for winter fun. For now check out your local area for winter carnivals that feature shovel racing or give it a go at your local tobogganing hill

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