Waltner gets loopy one last time
When veteran Aspen Mountain ski instructor Tommy Waltner first saw a flip performed on skis, he remembers thinking, “Well, I can do that.”
Of course, that was a long time ago, in 1965. The young Waltner, a gymnast and springboard diver in high school, was living near Lake June, California, a resort that’s now part of Mammoth Mountain. Soon after seeing Stein Eriksen pull off a flip, the 15-year-old Waltner followed suit. The event launched Waltner’s short-lived career as a hot dogger that included a season in Alta in the late ’60s where he earned his room and board at the High Rustler Lodge by doing flips over the lodge’s outdoor bar in the afternoons.
But after a two-year stint in Lake June from 1968-70, where Waltner performed regularly in shows, he stopped flipping out, so to speak.
“After that, I didn’t do a flip in a long, long time,” he said yesterday. “Probably 25 years, or more.”
That streak ended in April of 1999, when Waltner took to the air once again to benefit Loops for Lupus, a local nonprofit he created to raise monies and awareness for the auto-immune disease lupus.
A year later, in April of 2000, Waltner completed 23 forward flips on skis to benefit Loops for Lupus. The feat helped raise $14,000 for Lupus charities, and also earned Waltner a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
This weekend, the 50-year-old Waltner plans to continue his high-flying fund-raising efforts with another series of flips on Aspen Mountain, as well as related activities, to benefit Loops for Lupus.
The second annual Loops for Lupus Art from the Heart event kicks off Friday with an artist reception and silent auction at the Aspen Square Hotel from 5 to 7 p.m.
On Saturday, a series of six jumps on the Little Nell run will launch Waltner as he attempts to stick as many front flips in succession as he can. The event, which Waltner says is his last aerial show, is slated to begin at noon.
The weekend’s events continue from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Aspen Square Hotel with a live auction and reception. A longtime ski school client of Waltner’s, TV journalist Ed Bradley of “60 Minutes” fame, will host the live auction.
“Last year we raised about $14,000,” Waltner said, “and this year we’re hoping to collect more than $30,000.”
“But these will be my last loops. I’m not doing any more flips on skis – 23 in ten minutes was plenty,” he said. “But we’re going to try and continue this event, complete with loops. In the future, maybe we’ll bring some kids in to do the loops.”
For more information about the second annual Loops for Lupus Art from the Heart event visit http://www.loopsforlupus.org or call 927-3983.
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