What is shovel racing? you might ask. Well, it’s probably as ridiculous as you’re imagining. New Mexicans don’t care—it has a huge following in our crazy state.
Shovel racing is a sport that consists of riders racing down a snowy hill while riding on shovels. The person sits on the shovel itself, putting the handle between their legs, and uses the metal as a sled. The sport is practiced on both typical snow shovels and on modified, shovel-based sleds.
Competitive shovel racing has its roots in New Mexico’s ski resorts. In the 1970s, ski resort workers used shovels as sleds to move quickly from one location to the other. The trend caught on, and in 1997, extreme and competitive shovel racing was featured in the winter X games. Here’s the best part: it was quickly removed from the roster after the serious injury of a shovel racer during a crash. The injury isn’t the best part—its fact that people still practice this ridiculous sport.
The rules are simple: the shovel racer sits on the shovel and moves down the hill. In some cases, shovel racers have extensively modified shovels—sometimes to the point where they bear little resemblance to the original tools. However, these shovels have been banned from competition due to safety concerns. Competitors often wax the underside of the shovel in order to increase its speed. The top speed of elite shovel racers can exceed 70 mph. That’s just bananas.
The most prominent shovel racing competition is hosted at Angel Fire Resort in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Riders often decorate their sleds with custom paint jobs. There is a wide age range in competitors, including both children and retirees. If you find yourself in this part of the state at the end of ski season, head over to Angel Fire to see one of the strangest sports in the world.