Smokin' at Angel Fire

Race on a snow shovel, or watch the action, in New Mexico

For those who think snow shovels are for clearing sidewalks and straining backs, the World Shovel Race Championships at Angel Fire Resort in Angel Fire, New Mexico, are a revelation.

Thirty years ago, ski-lift operators at the resort organized a race to see who could ride the tool of their trade to the base first. Today the annual two-day championships attract hundreds of fans. Most racers use standard-issue grain shovels (the kind you see at hardware stores); the resort provides loaners to visitors who decide to join in. Riders sit, wobble, and sometimes flop off as they whiz down a chute of packed snow.

Then come the real stars, the "modified-category" entrants, whose vehicles are more space shuttle than snow shovel. Mounted on skis or rails, they have Formula One–like bodies (there's a shovel somewhere), windshields, and wild paint jobs ― flames, camouflage, teeth. The winners reach speeds of better than 70 miles per hour, as white powder rooster-tails behind them. Like ordinary shovels, they can move a lot of snow.

INFO: Angel Fire Resort (www.angelfireresort.com or 800/633-7463) is 150 miles north of Albuquerque via State 434.

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