Photo Gallery: Angel Fire's last World-Championship Shovel Races

By Morgan Timms
photos@taosnews.com
Posted 2/7/20

Competitors waxed their shovels and took to the slopes at Angel Fire for the 40th, and, according to organizers, the final World Championship Shovel Races on Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

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Photo Gallery: Angel Fire's last World-Championship Shovel Races

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Competitors waxed their shovels and took to the slopes at Angel Fire for the 40th, and, according to organizers, the final World Championship Shovel Races on Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

The event, launched decades ago by some resort trail groomers, so the story goes, did not disappoint, with dozens of people competing against each other – and the clock – for bragging rights.

Local realtor Kelly Haukebo, considered shovel racing royalty, was at the event racing with her daughter, University of New Mexico student Gentry Haukebo. Like many regular shovel-racers, Haukebo has an unparalleled love for shovel racing and was devastated that the tradition was coming to an end. However, given the record turnout this weekend, Haukebo said she is quietly optimistic that officials will have a change of heart. “They took away all the cash prizes [this year] and that’s OK,” Haukebo said. “We just want to ride the shovels. Where else can you do this?”

About 20 years ago, Haukebo shattered her wrist in a shovel-racing accident that left her with a 5-inch scar on her wrist. “So I didn’t get to race that year,” she said.

Justin Gonzales of Angel Fire has been shovel racing since he was six years old. His sister, Nadia, also races and together they are an unstoppable duo. Gonzales won the Pro Men category in 2019. He spends the month leading up to the shovel races designing and painting his shovel with intricate, colorful designs. His first shovel, when he was 13 years old, had a dragon on it.

For the ski resort’s last shovel race, Gonzales decided to reimagine his original dragon design to commemorate how far he’s come. “When I heard this was the last shovel race, I decided I needed to organize everybody and do everything I can to get the shovel races to continue because it means that much to me,” Gonzales said. “All year long I talk about shovel racing.”

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