Hot dog skiing - or free-styling - is one of the most controversial sports around.?
Hot dog skiing - or free-styling - is one of the most controversial sports around. It's also one of the craziest and most dangerous ... so dangerous, in fact, that enthusiasts are afraid to practice often, because of the high risk of serious injury.
The idea behind the sport - a wild extension of downhill skiing - is to incorporate in the run as many spins, flips and twists as possible. The fad began 10 years ago on the ski slopes at Aspen in Colorado, when veteran skier Stein Eriksen startled his fellow sportsmen by performing a series of bizarre aerial somersaults as he sped downhill. Since then hot dogging has built up a strong following and left behind it a trail of injuries and a few lawsuits as well.
However, two hot doggers in Sun Valley, Idaho have overcome the training problem by constructing their own ramp, which dumps the skiers softly, if unceremoniously, into a hot springs pool.
One of the designers, Bill Minor, says that last year he completed only 50 jumps - and most of those were in competitions. Since building the ramp he's jumped over a thousand times, and perfected aeries of new manoeuvres, which could have proved fatal if developed in real snow conditions.
Minor and colleague Mark Marsh use normal skis and boots. The only concession to their aquatic landing ground is a wet suit.
At the moment there ae only a few of the ramps in operation. But, one doubt, they'll become more popular as the word spreads.