There is great news from the Section 7 High School Alpine ski meet that ran on Tuesday at Giant’s Ridge. West Ender Will Lamb, who has deep roots in Schroeder, placed seventh overall in a field of 120 skiers. This earns Will, a 15-year-old freshman, his second consecutive trip to the state meet at Giants Ridge on Feb. 12. Last year, he went to state when the team placed highly enough to go as a group.
This year, neither the boys’ nor girls’ team placed high enough to qualify for state. However both teams are very young and did extremely well in a competitive field. The girls were sixth out of 18 teams and the boys were fifth out of 20.
Seventh-grader Riley Wahlers, from Grand Marais, also qualified for state, finishing an incredible 11th overall out of 114 of the region’s best skiers.
Coach Charles Lamb reports that he has many young skiers who are improving fast, which bodes well for the future. There can be no doubt that the Junior Ski Team program sponsored by Lutsen Mountains Ski Area is working well to develop top-notch high school skiers. It’s wonderful to have such a world class facility here in the West End and even better that they offer such generous support to local kids.
Speaking of local kids, I urge everyone to attend the community conversation get-together at the Birch Grove Community Center Wednesday, Feb. 19. This is a fun brainstorming session to identify the opportunities and challenges for the future of the whole West End community. Anyone with an interest, or ideas about the community center and how it can enhance our quality of life, should attend.
The event kicks off with a community meal at 5:45 p.m., followed by a structured discussion. The goal is to identify and prioritize the three- to five-year goals of the Birch Grove Community Center. RSVPs are encouraged. Call 663-7977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of Feb. 5, the Canadian Ice Service has declared that Lake Superior is officially frozen over. This is a relatively rare phenomenon, happening only about once every 20 years on average. The last official freeze over was in 1997, although 2003 came very close.
I well remember the ice-box year of 1982, when the big lake not only froze over, but developed a swath of smooth ice, safe for skating, from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. On the night of the February full moon that year, nearly every resident of the West End was out skating. It was a peak moment in West End history. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be smooth on such a large scale this year.
I am particularly happy to be able to report the West End News this week, because by all rights I should be either be in an intensive care ward or attending my own funeral.
Last Wednesday, I fell off the peak of my roof, plunging 22 feet straight down on to rock-hard frozen ground.
I was up there to clear a frozen sewer vent, which is something that a lot of West End residents have been doing lately. To access my roof, I climb the latticed radio tower that is bolted to the high peak of my two-story home. At the peak, there is a steep eave about 18” wide that I have to step over to reach the much flatter main roof area. When I committed my weight in that first step, the snow on the eve broke loose and avalanched down and off. I wasn’t too worried because I still was holding the tower with both hands and my other foot. Unfortunately, the physics of the avalanche took a large chunk of dense snow off the flat part of the roof with it, including my foot that was buried within it. The huge mass of the moving snow plucked my hands off the tower like you would pluck a mosquito off your arm. Meanwhile, the foot that was still on the tower became momentarily wedged in the latticework and in the blink of an eye, I was spun around and launched into mid air 22 feet above the unforgiving earth.
I’m here to tell you that good old gravity accelerates a falling object frighteningly quickly. It’s one thing to observe an object dropping from the heights – and quite another thing to be the object.
I’ve often wondered what would pass through my mind if I were facing sure death with only a few seconds to ponder my fate. Would my life flash before my eyes? Would I think of my children, spouse, family or beloved friends? Would I feel regret or fear? Well, now I know. I had one thought and one thought only as the ground rushed toward me. Calmly and without fear, I thought to myself, “This is really going to hurt.” – and it did.
As it turned out, I was incredibly lucky to land a perfect belly flop on absolutely flat ground that was covered by 25 inches of soft snow. Thanks to the cold weather, I was wearing multiple layers of thick clothing. That combination saved my life. I had the wind thoroughly knocked out of me, but once I recovered from that, I had only a moderately sore shoulder and foot to show for my adventure.
The experience definitely did change my outlook on life. I was stupid, then lucky, and that’s a combo that you don’t get to repeat too many times in one life. After the fall, you can be sure that I’ve thought often about my children, spouse, family and beloved friends. And I am so grateful to say…for WTIP, this Bill Hansen with the West End News.