* Updated on Friday, January 24th at 3:30 p.m. *
By Dan Walton, Pioneer Staff
Extreme sports are as deadly as they are exciting and the stakes have doubled in the valley. Eric Oddy from Brisco has combined the aerial aspect of paragliding with the thrust and power of snowmobiling, calling his innovation para-sledding.
As enjoyable as para-sledding may seem to thrill-seekers, Mr. Oddy said that the sport is not ready for the general public yet. He is, however, in the process of developing a kit for those willing to give para-sledding a try.
If you grab a snowmobile and glider and figure youll go flying on your own, youll find yourself in deep trouble.
He said that if somebody is going to give para-sledding a try, they would be best to contact him first.
Should the sport become more popular, he envisions an organized race on Lake Windermere.
Well be lifting off, touching down, turning, tricking, touching wing tips that kind of thing, he said. Well race together to add some excitement unless we end up wrapping sleds around each others.
But first, more athletes need to become comfortable on a para-sled.
He cautioned that extreme sports come with risks, adding that insurance companies dont like anything. We dont use them.
Mr. Oddy has survived a few hiccups since founding the sport.
I once piled up huge, endoed by the time the sled was done it was gift wrapped around the paraglider like a Christmas present, he said. Thats why I dont tie myself to the sled.
Para-sledding was innovated in the valley in recent years, but Mr. Oddy formed the idea over twenty years ago, he said. It was then, along with a buddy, when he had a snowmobile shuttle him atop a mountain in Golden with plans to glide down.
The snow was really deep, he said. I couldnt run in it, so I said lets launch off the sled.
Mr. Oddy sat on the sled with his paraglider ready, and had his friend gas the sled over one of the mountains top cliffs.
And when I flew away from that sled, I always thought, what if?
He added that his friend and the snowmobile survived.
Having dreamed about making the sport a reality since the snowmobile-assisted launch, it was just a matter of making it happen, and I made it happen.
The valley offers a vast array of suitable terrain for the sport, he said, but Mr. Oddy focuses most of his flying near Chatter Creek in Golden, which he considers his biggest sponsor, having encouraged para-sledding and allowing the use of their grounds for experimental purposes.
Much interest has been paid to para-sledding. He was once featured on the Discovery Channels Daily Planet, and garnered over 350,000 YouTube views from a video he uploaded 13 months ago, which can be viewed at http://goo.gl/OmqITM . Hes since become even more comfortable, and has reached the point where he can ascend a mountain by sled and glide down with the snowmobile intact thousands of feet in the air.
And Ill ride back up and do it again, he added.
Mr. Oddy will also be featured in a Red Bull film coming out next fall; see the trailer at www.redbull.com/us/en/snow/films/1331623866090/days-of-my-youth-official-trailer .