Adventures of a Tahoe Snowskater

In this Adventure of the Week, we hear from Kendra Wilson, a University of Nevada, Reno, student who is serious about snowskating. Follow her from competitions to powder runs in this exclusive report on the Tahoe snowskating scene.

WHO: Kendra Wilson (pictured above at the Minus 7 Melee comp)

WHAT: Ralston Cup and Minus 7 Melee Snowskate Competitions, and the best Powder day of my life.

WHEN: March 10-18 2012

WHERE: Tahoe ski resorts Sierra at Tahoe and Donner Ski Ranch

GEAR: Ralston Snowskate, Florida Powderskate, Keen Boots, Smith Transport Helmet, Snowskate Leash

My passion is riding snow… without bindings. I’m a snowskater, which means I’m the person on the mountain having the most fun. Snowskating is like skateboarding on snow. We don’t use bindings. We don’t use uncomfortable boots. The top-deck of a snowskate is shaped like a skateboard with grip on top for traction. Snowskate-specific trucks attach a ski to the bottom of the top-deck. Just like skiers and snowboarders, we can ride all mountain terrain, and we can grind rails. What we can do that you can’t are flip tricks and one footed and no footed grabs.

I went through a Transworld Snowboarding magazine several months ago and counted the number of pictures of guys doing tricks with one foot unstrapped, there were more than 10. Think about it. It is possible to ride snow without straps… all the time… on a snowskate. I fell in love with a snowskate the first time I rode one, and I don’t even snowboard anymore. I’d rather step on a snowskate and be challenged to progress at something new than… actually anything!

Now, this is my adventure:

Ralston Cup

I competed in my first snowskate competition with other female competitors on March 10, 2012, at Sierra at Tahoe. I’ve competed in other snowskate competitions, but never with other females. It was a total new experience riding and competing with women!

There were five ladies registered: Randi Rettke, Mathilda Spiers, Tara Atkins, Michelle Hickman, and myself. These ladies are some of the most talented women in the sport, and it was such a progressive experience to ride with them. These women stepped up to the most gnarly features and made them look tame. Randi really stepped in up and stomped several hits of the spotlight Neff feature.

The day was sunny, and perfect for a competition. The Ralston Cup is the event to meet up and hang out with snowskaters from all over the US and Canada. The vibe was mellow, everyone was cheering for everyone. The thing about snowskating is that the community is so small still that everyone knows each other and is super stoked to see anyone on a snowskate. Snowboarders can get a little brutal if you’re not going super big or if you eat it. You’ve got chairlift critics who can be just plain mean. It’s not like that when you are on a snowskate. You’re instantly “in” and you don’t have to put up with all that negativity. It’s just pure stoke.

I ended up placing 3rd in the competition to Randi Rettke (1st) and Tara Atkins (2nd). We each got a trophy. Then, it was off to the “Bonser Pipeline,” which is the most well-known backyard setup and after party for the Ralston Cup.

Minus 7 Melee

The following weekend was the Minus 7 Melee, which is held at Donner Ski Ranch on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012. This competition had more of a homegrown feel. We watched the features get built that day by Minus 7 team members, and features were brought from all around to build the park. There was the famous Donner Ski Ranch log jib, a kinked rail, a few flat boxes, and a rooftop feature. Everything was very hittable for almost all skill levels, which made it very fun.

I squeaked out a 1st place in this competition followed very closely by Mathilda Spiers in 2nd place and Tara Atkins in 3rd. I won a case of Guinness, a homemade hat, and some wax.

Then, everyone met at the top for the very last run of the day: the Irish Downhill Race. Rules were: No rules. Any line is a go. First one to the bar wins. Pat Bonser made it to the bottom, ordered, and received his beer before 2nd place even rolled in. He won an awesome, custom Minus 7 Longboard.

Snowskate Powder Day!

A misconception about snowskating is that it can’t be done in powder. Well, yes it can! It is the best feeling in the world to ride powder without being restricted in the confines of bindings! It’s so free and flowy. It feels like surfing!

March 18, 2011, was my first powderskating experience and I’ve been jonesing to get back at it ever since! It’s completely addicting.

Conditions were perfect! Snow was dumping and every single run at Donner Ski Ranch was freshies! There were no lift lines and we had a snowskate posse six people deep! We took runs from 10am all the way until last chair and we still wanted more of the fresh goods!

Well, that’s the short of it. My snowskate adventure, which included the very best parts of snowskating: the community, urban-style skating on man-made features, and powderskating. For more information on the sport visit

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or snowskate) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

Keen Gypsum Boots
MSRP: $139.95

Smith Transport Helmet
MSRP: $119.95

Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants
MSRP: $299

Leave a Comment