This is from an article that Josh Davis wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian in Novemember, 2002. It was one of his first published articles:
Last winter I decided to hang up my toboggan and give arm wrestling a try. I bought some arm warmers, traveled to Poland to compete in the World Armwrestling Championship, and went on to lose every single match. After my final loss, I hung up my armwarmers and decided that arm wrestling wasn't the sport for me. But now, one year later, I'm faced with a pressing question: What the hell am I going to do this winter?
Here are my constraints. In 1991, at the height
of the Scott Schmidt Extreme Ski hype-a-thon,
I bought my last pair of skis, a pair of K2
“Extremes” with metal edges so wide they
grab the snow
and make me face plant every time I try to turn.
I put up with it for a few years but the face-planting
bit got a little boring after awhile. I don't
have enough money to buy a new pair and renting
is expensive so my choices are give up skiing
or find a way of skiing that involves less turning.
Ski jumping, of course, is the obvious answer.
Unfortunately, it's very difficult to be a
ski jumper in San Francisco . Squaw's two jumps
-- built for the 1960 Olympics -- look like
they haven't been sneezed on since 1961. The
landing zone is dotted with sprouting trees,
and you'd need a fresh copy of the 1960 Winter
Olympics Press Kit to discern the ramp. I don't
have a death wish. I just want some winter
I want to fly like they fly on TV during the Olympics. I want to feel the wind holding me up and hear the crowds roar and gasp. I'm not really so interested in the whole catapulting down the ramp thing, but I'm a man. I can handle it.
The closest training facility I can find is
in Steamboat Springs , Colo. , which may seem
like a bit of a schlep, but consider this: the
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has produced
more than 60 Olympians. Of the 11 members on
this year's U.S. Olympic ski-jumping team, 10
either trained or lived in Steamboat. It is
the epicenter of the American ski-jumping community,
not to mention a top training facility for all
other winter sports, attracting people with
anything from snowboards
to ice skates from all over the world. If I'm
serious about taking up this sport, I really
have no choice but to go to Steamboat.
When I call Todd Wilson, the director of the ski-jumping program at SSWSC, to make the arrangements, he tells me that it usually takes two years to get to the point where you can hit the really big jumps. Under pressure, he admits that some have been able to do it in 10 months. As a hardworking writer, I don't have that kind of time. I need the condensed version. "I have three days to devote to this undertaking," I tell him.
"We can start you out on the beginner jump, for sure," Wilson says, sounding unfazed by my enthusiasm.
"What does it look like?" I ask.
"It's a bump in the snow."
"Will I fly through the air?"
"You might get a few feet off the ground."
"I was thinking of something a little grander, actually."
Wilson goes on to explain that the "grander" jumps involved hurtling 63 miles per hour down the ramp and flying as far as 800 feet.
"If you have no idea what you're doing, yeah, it's dangerous," he says. He suggests I contact Pat Arnone, the President of Steamboat's Gelandesprung Jumping Association, a group of "crazy guys who jump off Nordic ski jumps in their alpine skis."
"Yeah, we encourage newcomers," Arnone tells when I call him at his office in Steamboat. "We had a fatality out in Durango a while back, and that kind of chilled the sport out, so we're always looking for new people to bring in and grow the sport."