X Files: Boys, 14ers and seriously tough girls
He wore the same style of tripped-out camouflage suit favored by many of the competitors. Still, the forerunner of last night’s men’s ski superpipe contest stood out – barely.At 3-foot-6 and 40 pounds, little Bridger Gile was easy to miss. He could’ve been mistaken for a bowling ball, all shiny helmet and goggles, rolling back and forth from lip to lip.But then the bowling ball would throw a jump-turn near the deck – some 18 feet above the trough below – and you could discern tiny arms and legs, skis and poles, and, yes, the familiar golden locks trailing out behind him.Each time the 5-year-old Aspenite pulled into the finish corral, he’d thrust out a pole without a word and somebody would grab it. Over to the waiting lineup of snowmobiles he’d be towed.Once, the X Games’ most famous goldilocks was in line to go back up the pipe, too.Bridger hopped into the papoose seat in front of the sled driver, and Tanner Hall – the silver medalist Tuesday night – climbed aboard on the back. Up the hill the juveniles sped.Asian XThe X Games announced yesterday that Seoul, Korea, will host the 2005 Asian X Games, May 26-29. Area road-trippers take note – like the games at Buttermilk, admission will be free in Seoul.Erstwhile XWhen Aron Ralston got down off Aconcagua last month, he got word of a Colorado Springs climber named Hamish Gowans and a project Gowans is calling 54:14:1. Gowans is attempting to solo climb all the Colorado 14,000-foot peaks – 54 by his count – this winter.At least two climbers have summitted the 54 fourteeners in calendar winter (from the winter solstice to the vernal equinox), but no one has climbed them all alone. It’s a first that Ralston’s been working on for six years.Now, it seems, there’s a wee bit more giddyup in Ralston’s step.As the X Games took hold at Buttermilk over the weekend, Ralston wrote X Files with this dispatch:”Success in the San Juans and some neat experiences to boot – a winter solo 14er summit ski off Handies (at dusk, in a storm, of course, just to make it interesting). Saw two adult male moose together along the creek above Lake San Cristobal. Lots of huge avalanche debris flows from two weeks ago, complete with full tree trunks thrown a hundred feet up the opposite hillsides. An eight-hour epic drive home through a dumping storm. And my total is up to 52 of the 59 done.”Ralston, who will appear with Tom Brokaw on Friday night at the Wheeler Opera House in a fund-raising event, uses a more inclusive formula to count the Colorado fourteeners – hence the 59 mark. And counting.Disable thisKimberly Joines of Edmonton, Alberta, a disabled ski racer in town for the X Games, took a 35-foot fall from a chairlift at Buttermilk this week, according to reports from The Associated Press.It should come as no surprise to regular readers that Joines was OK, but bruised all over. In fact, she went out and raced anyway.Joines had trouble loading on the lift, according to the AP, and had to cling to the lift with her hands for about 10 minutes as the lift proceeded uphill. About 100 yards from the unloading station, with her hands growing numb, the lift inexplicably stopped. Her grip released and she fell.Good thing she’s OK. Seriously.But seriously now, what more does ESPN, the world, need as validation for these athletes?Hard core is hard core is hard core.Best sign/pinAfter Peter Olenick’s double-medalist performance last year, the Carbondale native came into this year’s X Games with high hopes. So, the 20-year-old is excused for stealthily backing out of an interview with a Times scribe last night after the ski superpipe contest. It was at the behest of screaming girls.After all, Olenick (and the Olenick fan club) was rocking the coolest pin – and/or sign – of the games. His dad, Bob, sported one front and center on his hat last night and at Sunday’s ski slopestyle.The pin pictures Peter and three blondes in a smoky, hazy scene. It reads: “Peter Olenick – This year he’s single.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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For some producers of backcountry equipment, fall sales this year have been better than Christmas sales were last year. Karakoram is one such company; the British Colombia-based binding manufacturer has already ran through its line.