Despite the risk, longboarders ride on

They sail down the black road hunched over longboards like speed skaters, hands locked behind their backs. Their eyes glare forward into the streaming wind, back heels lifted off the boards just a few inches. They’re in complete control reveling in their downhill sprints as they curve alongside the yellow lines.

“It’s totally surreal,” said Castleton sophomore  Reece Gesick. “I used to play sports all the time, but nothing compares to the rush I get from longboarding.”

Gesick became interested after watching longboarding videos on Youtube four years ago. Soon after, he and his father, also a boarder, built his first longboard.

Despite the risks of road rash, oncoming traffic, debris in the road and not being strapped to the board, Gesick feels more comfortable on his longboard than on his snowboard.

“I can stop myself by sliding. There’s multiple ways I can slow down, that’s one of the big ones.”

That’s the major difference between skateboarding and longboarding. Unlike skateboarding, a bombastic breakdance of spinning gyrations, there’s a sweeping elegance to longboarding that cannot be wholly achieved by its smaller brother.

Longboarding is a tango. Elegant and smooth until with a snap they lean into the road, dragging their hands in special gloves on the asphalt with a rending grind of rubber. After the switchback, they stand up and keep going leaning into their boards to carve side to side picking up speed.

But Gesick and fellow boarders take precautions with the sport. They clear the road, set spotters at the bottom of their route, warn neighbors of their presence – then bomb the hill.

Zach White, who also boards with Gesick, says going fast is necessary to break the wheel grip and slow down around corners.

It seems counter-intuitive, but White says you can’t worry about fear. You have to accept the fact you’re going to fall in order progress.

“If you don’t commit to a trick or a maneuver 100 percent, that’s when you’re going to fall,” White said. “You’ve gotta just go for it – don’t think, just do it.”

If you’re curious, he hasn’t been in any serious accidents.

“Nope,” White said rapping the wooden windowsill with a knuckle. “Nope, not yet. I haven’t taken a good, hard, rag doll of a fall. But I’m definitely due.”

White competed in a Burlington race this fall and made to the semi-final round. He hopes to enter in next year’s spring and summer races and keep pushing himself forward.

Universal with both riders is the accessibility of the sport.

“It’s more freeing,” Chris Krebs, a Castleton transfer senior, said. “You can grab your board and go…and it’s free to go. You’re not limited to certain terrain.”

Krebs, who also snowboards, wasn’t able to convince himself to go snowboarding sometimes because of the expenses for traveling and tickets.

“I wanted to snowboard year round and, now I can,” Krebs said. “I just wish Castleton cops didn’t have an ordinance against it.”

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