Category Archives: winter

Albany, Home of Bobsledding

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Just in time for the Olympics, this post is. Or it will be if I backdate it.

Last run

The folks at All Over Albany dug up an amazing test of the knowledge of eighth-graders in Albany in 1882. Not least amazing, besides the assumption that schoolchildren should know how to divide opium to the smallest scruple, was this instruction: “Write an exercise of 15 lines on the pass time of bobsledding.”

Several years ago, it was asserted that scenic Albany, New York, and not scenic St. Moritz, Switzerland, was the original home of the bobsleigh. Writing on the debate back in 2002, the Times Union’s Tim Farkas said a report from Albany City Historian Virginia Bowers listed the year of origin as 1885. This test would make it clear it was on the minds of Albanians at least three years earlier than that. The story goes that the earliest bob sleds were adapted from their use as lumber sleds, where two short (“bobbed”) sleds were linked together and hitched to teams of horses that could carry enormous loads of lumber.
It certainly makes sense –

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Suddenly this winter

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Just a couple of days after some glorious 50-degree bike rides, we got dumped with nigh onto two feet of snow — tragically unskiable because of other commitments. Damn!Horned Cavern

Like winter in February

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It appears that winter’s wrath has finally found us, and the only month in which I won’t be riding my bike is February. Not that I care, as long as I’m able to ski, which I got to do yesterday. It’s been cold, and we had a nice two-foot dump of the white stuff on Wednesday — couldn’t get to the slopes on Thursday, but it was still fresh and fantastic yesterday. Best skiing of the whole year. Everything was just soft and wonderful, all the trails were open, and I finally got to have some fun with it. The other parts of February are here, too, though, so the temps have been below 20 for a while, and yesterday the wind was howling so hard up at Mount Snow that the main lifts were closed for most of the morning, something I haven’t seen before. But it was a great day, anyway.

Everybody’s recovering from last weekend’s trauma. Scarring will be minimal, the cast will be off in a couple of weeks, and skiing is not contraindicated in the meantime, so we’re hoping to get a day or two in during this vacation week.

Continuing my resurgent Beatles fetish, I tracked down a DVD copy of “Back Beat,” a movie about Stu Sutcliffe that I remembered as wonderful, but which I only had a used rental VHS copy of. The DVD proved my memory correct — just a fantastic movie that deals so well with youth, passion, relationships, and that incredible excitement of early rock ‘n’ roll. Highly recommended, though I couldn’t even find a copy at Amazon. FYE was my source, ultimately.

Just finished the new Hiaasen, too, “Nature Girl.” Typical madcap formulaid Hiaasen, with even more key characters than usual. It’s a romping morality tale, like all his stories. You just go along for the ride. But with that out of the way, it’s time to dig into “Suite Francaise,” which I still intend to read even if Paris Hilton was seen holding a copy in a rare trip to a bookstore. I’m assuming someone just put it in her hand.