Mt. Shasta man seeks to be one of world's top downhill skateboarders
Downhill skateboarding is a dare-defying spin on traditional skateboarding, and Morgan Owens of Mount Shasta competes professionally.
Owens is 21 years old and has been living in Mount Shasta the last 16 years. He said he started skateboarding when he was 13 because he wanted a mode of transportation. One day he took his brother’s longboard and rode it to school. It quickly became his preferred choice of transportation, especially over walking.
“From there it went to watching videos on YouTube and getting the idea of sliding, using gloves with plastic pucks on them to put your hand on the ground to maintain your speed while throwing the board sideways and slowing down,” Owens said. “This is the moment it went from just skating to downhill skateboarding! From there it was trial and error, fall after fall, lots of blood and sweat was poured into this sport for me.”
For days on end, Owens explored for nearby roads to skate. He valued the challenge and wished to progress his skill level. Everitt Memorial Highway became a possibility as an ultimate practice zone. The 14 miles of downhill paved lane all the way to Owens’ house provided him with an hour of downhill skateboarding in one go!
“I like downhill skateboarding because it allows me the absolute freedom of just being thrown down mountain roads at high speed,” he said. “It allows me to travel and experience life how I feel I am intended to at my current age. While helping maintain a healthy body, it lets me experience the world, new culture, new people and new life lessons from all sorts of aspects in the world.”
He has been competing professionally for a year and a half and is currently going overseas to race in the International Downhill Federation World Cup. A not-for-profit organization, the IDF promotes downhill skateboard and luge racing all over the world and sanctions the World and Continental Championship, according to its website.
Owens, who works at Berryvale in Mount Shasta, will soon start a racing journey in Australia, followed by the Philippines, and then South Korea. He plans to come home for a month and a half, then leave for Europe for a month and a half.
To prepare, Owens hits the gym for cardio and strength training. He mixes in hiking and free riding, and seeks to stay healthy.
He said, “We wear full face helmets certified to our specific sport. When we race, we wear full leather suits that cover from the neck to the ankles; this allows us to stay safe and get no road rash when racing or going uncomfortably fast!”
At average speeds of 25 to 45 miles per hour, the sport is often associated with adrenalin. When going down a mountain, Owens says skaters can reach speeds up to 65 mph. He says his highest speed has been 70 mph.
With practice comes failure, and after a bad wreck he admits that one simply has to get back up and try again. He believes in pushing himself while still being smart. Most of all he recommends staying healthy to experience a fast recovery.
“I hope to continue downhill skateboarding for as long as I possibly can,” he said. “I am really pushing to become one of the top riders in the world, and I am trying to make sure that I am branching out into more than just the long boarding industry when it comes to diversifying industries! Racing a lot, traveling a lot, and learning as much as I possibly can about myself and the world.”
Owens notes that some people are alarmed when they see individuals practicing downhill skateboarding. He assures them that those skateboarders are not there to hurt themselves or anyone else for that matter. He concludes that the majority of downhill skateboarders are in control, and he hopes community members can forgive these skaters for any reckless behavior. He asks that those driving in their cars please stay in their lane when in range of a downhill skateboarder. Plus, a high-five is always welcomed.
Anyone interested in finding out more about downhill skateboarding can contact Morgan Owens at 530-859-5453.