By Nathan Ham
In what has become a heart-pounding tradition on the steep slopes of Mt. Jefferson, skateboarders from across the nation and other parts of the world visit the High Country July 27-28 to take on the high-speed thrills of racing down the mountain.
This is the fifth year that the race has taken place at the Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area and it continues to grow in popularity each year. The race has become one of the most popular and well attended in the southeast. The race started with 66 riders in the first year and jumped to 89 in the second year. Each of the last two years, there has been over 100 riders register for the event and easily over 1,000 spectators through the two-day event.
The downhill race is approximately 1.6 miles from start to finish with the elevation drop reaching nearly 700 feet from the starting line to the finish line. The average grade of the course is 8 percent with some areas reaching a 10-percent grade.
This year’s event has a special cause tied to it. The Ian Tilmann Foundation, one of the event sponsors, will be bringing the “Helmet For a Promise” program to the race. Area skateboarders are encouraged to attend the races and learn about the risk of head injuries from the sport. All skateboarders willing to sign a pledge to wear a helmet when they skate will receive a free S-ONE skate helmet. There will be 100 helmets available and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis, starting at 11 a.m. at the first turn of the course.
The Ian Tilmann Foundation is able to offer these helmets thanks to a sponsorship from J Raymond Construction.
“We return for another great downhill longboard race at Mt. Jefferson. The helmet sponsor is J Raymond Construction and is greatly appreciated,” said Marcy Tilmann, president and founder of the Ian Tilmann Foundation. “We invite North Carolina’s skateboarding community to join us for a great day of downhill longboard racing. We encourage the local community to attend this event and watch world-class racing at its finest.”
The foundation is 501 (c)(3) non-profit named after family member Ian Lee Tilmann. He died from a brain injury sustained in a skateboard accident.
“The foundation actively promotes helmet use in hopes that others won’t suffer such a senseless and preventable tragedy as struck our family when Ian Tilmann died from a traumatic brain injury in 2005 from a skateboarding fall,” Marcy Tilmann said.
The Ian Tilmann Foundation has distributed over 10,500 free helmets across the country since 2006.