One of the fun things about surfing the internet is stumbling across a random news story that hits home for one reason or another. This morning, I was delighted to find a television news feature story about Jerry Gervais, better known as the Snowmobile Doctor of Tofte. It ran a couple of weeks ago as part of the “On The Road with Jason Davis” series that the Twin Cities TV station KSTP has been doing for what seems like a hundred years.
The story highlighted Jerry’s success as a pioneer snowmobile racer in the early 1960s. Jerry was a big part of the racing scene when it was just getting started. His daring and skill quickly brought him to joining the Polaris Company racing team. I remember what big news this was back in the day, and how Jerry, who went by the nickname “Red” in those days, was quite the local celebrity.
I was about nine years old at that time and I remember a Tofte resident telling me, with a mixture of horror and pride, that Jerry sometimes went 60 miles per hour on his Skidoo. When I expressed my desire to do 60 on a Skidoo myself, I was told that Jerry had just broken his leg while riding at high speed at the Tofte airport. I think the word maniac may have been used. It didn’t diminish my desire to race snowmobiles, just like Jerry. Fortunately, I never had the opportunity, which kept my skeleton mostly intact.
Jason Davis also covered Jerry’s current skill as a snowmobile mechanic and his passion for vintage snowmobiles. He pointed out that Jerry’s shop is located in the middle of nowhere. As proof, he noted that it was located just off the Sawbill Trail. He did admit that the shop is located immediately adjacent to a major snowmobile trail.
Davis also mentioned that if you go to Jerry’s shop, you should plan a little extra time to hear Jerry tell a few stories. I don’t think I’ve ever spent less than an hour in Jerry’s shop, even when I’ve just stopped by on a minor errand.
You can see the story for yourself by going the KSTP website, or google “On the Road: Snowmobile Doctor.”
If you have a big dog and want to have some fun, you should attend the first annual “Best In Snow” Ski-joring race, scheduled for the first Saturday March at the George Washington Pines ski trail, just a few miles north of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail. Ski-joring is basically harnessing your dog to pull you on cross-country skis.
This event is being sponsored by Go Dog North Shore, which is a new non-profit organization based in Grand Marais that aims to promote healthy and active human and dog relationships on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. Plans include a 2-mile and 4-mile race, with a limit of one dog per skier and each race capped at 15 teams. If you don’t know how to ski-jor this would be a good way to see if it’s for you and your dog.
You can find details at godognorthshore.org, or contact WTIP for full contact information.
Last week, I mentioned my epic fall off the peak of my house. I got a number of emails and comments about my inventing the new Olympic sport known as roof diving. It got me to thinking about other West End winter sports that could be included in future winter Olympic Games.
One event could be Cold Weather Dog Walking. This would be judged on the dog’s form and skill at walking while holding one or more freezing paws off the ground. Points could be awarded for maintaining speed while walking with one, two, or at the pinnacle of skill, three paws in the air. Extra points are awarded for successfully “taking care of business” with one or more paws off the ground.
Another sport could be competitive car starting. Athletes would each be provided with a 1992 Toyota Camry with two hundred and thirty thousand miles on it and a four-year-old battery, cooled down to 32 degrees below zero. Points would be awarded for the least time elapsed from leaving the house to pulling out of the driveway. Style points would be added for combinations of starter fluid, gas pedal pumping and application of jumper cables. Needless to say, at the Olympic level, only batteries with the tiny little side-mounted terminals would be allowed. Points would be deducted for failure to make a solid connection or having the jumper cables pop off just as you turn the key. You are disqualified if you leave your choppers sitting on the air cleaner when you slam the hood.
The final new event could be that ultimate test of speed, agility and strength that we call roof shoveling. Points would be awarded for speed and style, with extra points being added for the size of each block of snow pushed over the edge of a low pitch cabin roof. The judges will want to see a few graceful roof diving moves, with points being added for the length and loudness of the scream and the gracefulness of the landing. Veterans of this Olympic sport, like me, would delight the crowd with our perfect belly flop techniques.
This all gets me to thinking that the West End should submit a bid to host the 2022 winter games.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.