Monday, November 10, 2008

Chas'ing the Dream

The first day of 1995 was a Sunday. Some places were warm, some were cold, wet or dry, cloudy or sunny, it didn’t matter, because for most, 1995 started just like any other year.

One young man, however, was about to witness an event that would forever change his life. A breath-taking spectacle for all in attendance, the Eikedalen Freestyle has long been known as Norway’s premier event for high-flying acrobatics and envelope pushing aerials. While this may be well known to you and I, it was not well known to a young Cindy Guldemond.

Only a few weeks before the EF went down, Cindy had, on a whim, substituted her double pack of Winston 100’s for a Lucky14 Scratch off Lottery ticket. Cindy had never considered herself a lucky woman, born and raised on the racetracks of Laconia, NH; she had lived a hard life. Her father Charles Sr., or Chas for short, had nearly made it on the funny car drag race circuit, but during his first professional race a freak traction problem saw his car spin out of control. Four full circular rotations later, Chas was physically fine, but mentally he was unable to race anymore, always afraid of spinning out of control. Cindy had spent her adolescence dealing with her fathers aguish, but knew it was time for her to focus her attention on something else, her young son. At only 8 years old Chas Jr. shared little of his namesakes fear of spinning; bold and outspoken, Cindy saw hope in his shiny green eyes, and that is why, on that December day she gave Chas her scratch ticket.

They say that everything happens for a reason, and when Chas uncovered four leprechauns on that ticket, Cindy knew there was a reason they won a trip to a small ski field in Norway. Not the typical scratch off prize, they were both shocked and excited at their win. A few days of planning, a few bags packed, a few hours of traveling, and this story takes us back to where it started, The Eikedalen Freestyle.

The sky was grey and cold, the jump dark, and the light flat, but that didn’t deter the competitors from putting it all on the line. Chas and Cindy had never seen eagles so spread or daffy’s so split, both were thoroughly impressed, but no amount of impression could prepare them for what they were about to see. In an instant, a lifetime of fear and uncertainty would be put at ease, a jumbled existence would be put in order, and a young boy would see what he would be as a grown man. History has passed over the skiers name, but not his trick.

While “spinning to win” seems so obvious to us all today, it was not always so clear. It was not long ago that amplitude and style could best multiple spins in competition, and if it weren’t for past legends like the unknown skier above, or for living legends like the young boy turned man Chas Guldmond, people might still be trying to do aesthetically pleasing tricks in competition.

Thanks Chas, you are an inspiration to us all.


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