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Skate Slalom races through the Hood

Professional slalom skateboarders from the United States and abroad roll into Hood River this weekend to test their skills on Columbia Street outside Full Sail Brewery.

The competitors are gathering for “Haulin’ in the Hood,” the sixth installment of the 2002 Professional Slalom Skateboarding tour, which includes stops in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Breckenridge, Colo. The eight-race series culminates in October with the world championships in Morro Bay, Calif.

In the electronically timed head-to-head elimination races, winners are decided by hundredths and even thousandths of a second. Those small slices of time are crucial — they’re worth thousands of dollars in prize money and overall series point standings.

The first Hood River event will be held Saturday. Racers launch from an elevated starting ramp and scream into dual slalom courses. The next day, racers go head-to-head at high speeds in a dual tight slalom event.

On each day, open class qualifying races will be held at 9 a.m., with eliminations following immediately after, and pro class qualifying races will be at noon, followed by eliminations. Finals will be held each day at 3 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony on Sunday.

Slalom skateboarding, which reached its peak in the late 1970s, has re-emerged as a world-class event in the last few years. After a hiatus of more than 20 years, Fat City Racing and race organizer Jack Smith hosted the 2001 Morro Bay World Championships.

A year later, fresh faces and seasoned masters alike return for FCR’s eight-race series. This weekend, current professional class points leader Paul Dunn will defend his lead against Gary Cross, the 2001 world champion.

Other skateboarding personalities in attendance will include commentator Roger Hickey, the world standup downhill champion and inventor of street luge.

Most competitors are from California, but a few hail from as far away as Sydney, Australia. The weekend’s races aren’t just for men, either. The open class racing features women’s and junior divisions running the same course as the pros.

For more information on the series, visit www.fcrseries.com. For an updated list of registered racers visit the “Contest Calendar” link at www.ncdsa.com.

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