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Vano, Palmer make Guinness Book

Steve Yingling, Tahoe Daily Tribune

If you think it’s a bit odd that a 48-year-old woman enjoys activities better suited to flexible teen-agers, then effervescent Donna Vano must not stress about aging.

The South Shore resident has been a competitive snowboarder and skateboarder since 1991 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Not even Vano’s most recent injury — a fractured elbow — hasn’t changed the passion she has for inline skating, snowboarding and skateboarding.

“I think I’m trying to impress somebody … Geritol,” said Vano, who has been sponsored by Burton Snowboards for the past eight years. “I’m finally in one piece. Unfortunately, I don’t bounce back as fast at 48.”

Vano’s fearless pursuit of extreme sports has earned her recognition in the Golden Oldies section of the 2002 Guiness Book of World Records. Guiness touts Vano as the world’s oldest pro inline skater.

“It’s been really cool and exciting,” she said. “A lot of friends have been calling up and saying, ‘I can’t believe you got in the book.’ “

Shaun Palmer of South Lake Tahoe also appears in the 2002 Guiness Book. “The Palm” is recognized for his three straight boardercross victories in the Winter X Games.

Perhaps the book will someday recognize Vano’s competitive snowboarding longevity as well. During the South Tahoe Snowboard Series’ national championship run the past three years, Vano has been nearly unbeatable in her 40-49 class.

She won eight national titles at last year’s championships at Mammoth Mountain and doesn’t plan to give in to a younger wave of competitors this year.

“I know those 40-year-old whippersnappers are coming after me again,” she said.

Those championships came against a small field, but Vano demonstrated her talent to the younger generation when she placed third in the open division of last year’s Boarding for Breast Cancer competition at Sierra-at-Tahoe.

“That was one of my biggest accomplishments,” she said. “Being able to compete against all the kids, it was really exciting.”

When Vano isn’t competing, she ensures that children and adults on the South Shore have the opportunity to compete in snowboarding. Vano and her husband, Alan, run the 4-year-old South Tahoe Snowboard Series.

“I thank all the volunteer parents, and all the resorts have been incredibly supportive,” Vano said. “Collectively, we make it happen. It’s not Alan and I.”


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