Donner Pass is one of the most treacherous mountain roads in America, a passage in the Northern Sierras famous for a party of pioneers that got stranded by deep snow within it in the 1840’s and resorted to cannibalism to survive.
Naturally, given its tragic history, winding roads and sheer cliffs, it made the perfect setting for Red Bull and Sector 9 to send a group of downhill skateboarders to race down it:
“One of the hardest challenges with filming that edit, was that was actually our first time ever down the road,” downhill pro Louis Pilloni told GrindTV. “So we were flying around these blind corners with no idea what was on the other side.”
Pilloni is a 29-year-old skateboarding champion who has been downhill skateboarding for the past 13 years.
Raised on the hills around his home in Los Angeles, Pilloni has long had a penchant for speed, so when Red Bull approached him and the rest of the Sector 9 team about bombing Donner Pass, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind.
“I was all for it,” Pilloni said. “I knew that there had been a downhill race held on that road back in 2001, and that it had this really poignant history, so I wanted to help reignite interest in downhill racing at Donner Pass. More importantly, I just hope that this video will get more people interested in our sport.”
Pilloni said that while the video shows him and the team tearing down the hill and peeling through curves at speeds approaching 50 mph, they were under control the whole time.
“We were hitting about 45 mph for most of it,” Pilloni said. “Which is really fast, but we normally hit speeds of 60 mph or more, so we were able to handle it pretty well.”
Yet despite his nonchalance over the jaw dropping ride, Pilloni admits that there was a definite and grave danger factor in play.
“Well we didn’t really get that much time to scout what the pavement was like beforehand, and it ended up being super cracked and weathered from all the harsh conditions out in that Tahoe-Truckee area,” Pilloni said. “That made it a little harrowing because we were riding together in such a close pack, and if anyone fell, they could have easily taken the group off one of the cliffs to the side of the road. That would have been ban.”
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