Dave Shively's outdoors column appears Sundays in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Contact him at 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
I started thinking about records when the 450-pound Ski-Doo came flying at me. Ross Mercer hit the ramp at 75 mph, cleared a massive gap and touched down his sled on the groomed landing mound a few feet from where I was standing.
I was up there at the request of Mercer's Red Bull Canada production legion. According to "Guinness World Records" bureaucratic protocol, they needed witnesses to view the landing measurement if they hoped to earn a new entry in the internationally-recognized annual British publication (which itself holds a record as the world's most sold copyrighted book).
Do people really take this book seriously? The last time I looked at one, I was 8 and it was a novelty item. I laughed at the pictures of the creepy swami with the long fingernails, the guy's mouth packed with cigarettes or the two fat twins on tiny motorcycles.
Mercer "unofficially" broke the 245-foot record by 18.5 feet Monday, but who knows if it will make the book. "Guinness" pulls many of the coolest "human achievement" records for ethical fear of yahoo duplication - see free-diving, sword swallowing and all food, beer and alcohol consumption entries. Sorry Takeru Kobayashi, your 12-minute, 50-hot dog feat will be remembered only on Coney Island.
So what is a record to people who don't have the book in mind and have helicopters filming their stunts in high-definition, especially Steamboaters with broken records ingrained each time they look at Howelsen Hill?
The tone of a deeply personal and affirming challenge rings true for local runner Betsy Kalmeyer, who quietly broke the record for the 468-mile Colorado Trail in 9 days and 10 hours in 2003.
Ken White just wants to go skiing with his daughter. The 44-year-old Elizabeth resident taught 9-year-old Victoria to ski at Winter Park, but has only skied a dozen days with her since he got sick. White was surprised to be diagnosed with stage III melanoma eight months after getting a mole excised in 2003. He opted for taxing biochemotherapy sessions he said brought him, "to the doorstep of death." After surviving the risky treatment, along with radiation treatment last year for a golf ball-size tumor that appeared overnight, White saw a magazine snippet about Tim Hayes, 13, the youngest person to ski the seven continents during nine years.
White knew he and Victoria could do it in one. He knows it's not much of a feat - especially since former Coloradoan Kit DesLauriers became the first person to ski off the highest peaks on all seven in October - he's just happy to be alive, traveling with his daughter and raising money for the hospital that saved his life (University of Colorado Cancer Center). He's not waiting for "Guinness" to give him preliminary approval either. He and Victoria leave Tuesday to bag three continents in two weeks, from Switzerland to Morocco to Nepal, before tackling the southern hemisphere this summer. Visit www.mountainsformelanoma.com for updates and details.