Friday, June 03, 2005

one more to go...

So I'm sitting in Collis Café right now, doing some research for my last paper, and what happens? Two girls wearing ski helmets, goggles, minskirts, fluorescent Spandex, and butterfly wings come Rollerblading into the room. One of them is holding a boombox playing "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band, and the other is tossing out candy onto all the tables occupied by people studying. Some people roll their eyes; others smile; none are particularly surprised. A minute later, the girls leave and people resume studying. It's finals weekend at Dartmouth.

On a less upbeat note, there's some sad news in the disabled skiing world. Mike Goodman, who for many years ran Radventures, the company that builds Yetti monoskis, died on May 24 of prostate cancer. I just found out about it today when I sent the Goodmans an email about my upcoming graduation and change of e-mail accounts. Mike had been sick for quite a while now and I guess it was just a matter of time, but it was still a shock to learn the news. He was an immense help to me over the years, building and maintaining my monoskis for me from the time I was 11 or 12 until just a couple years ago. He and his family hosted me (and in the early years, my dad too) at their house in Oregon numerous times over the years while they fit me for new equipment or made modifications.

A dentist by trade, Mike bought one of the first American monoski companies, Fallon-Ski, from Dan Fallon in the early 1990s. From the beginning it was a family business, with Mike's wife Genie handling the business side of things and his son Jeff helping out in the shop. Their other son, Joel, has spina bifida and skis in a monoski himself. Jeff is the one who took over the main work of the business after Mike stopped spending much time in the shop a couple of years ago due to his illness. For most of the time that the Goodmans have been running the monoski business out of their basement workshop, Mike was also continuing to practice dentistry at his office in the Portland, Ore. suburbs.

Mike was a remarkably soft-spoken man who somehow never had anything bad to say about people, even those who probably deserved it. A wiry, gray-haired Montana native with a perpetual twinkle in his eye, he had that classic Western amiability without any cowboy bravado. I got the impression that beneath his quiet exterior he was a brilliant man, and that was reflected in his monoski designs, which were revolutionary for their time. For most of the mid-to-late '90s, when I think Mike's heart was most in his work, Yetti was the monoski to have if you were a serious skier or racer, and I would credit it with a big part of the success I had in first making the team in 1998. For now, the Goodman family continues to run Radventures in Mike's absence.

In her e-mail to me today, Mike's wife Genie wrote me the following:

Mike always had a special affection for you, Carl. He enjoyed working with you and your dad - we always looked forward to your visits here. He and I both regard you and your family as an extension of our own. I hope you'll stay in touch because I think of you often and love to hear what's happening with you.

In the end, Mike went very quickly. He was suffering a lot though so I was happy when he was freed of all that pain. In my most selfish moment, I couldn't wish that he would stay any longer. I will miss him every day that I have left. My wish for you is that you'll find someone to love and who will love you that much.

Jeff, Joel and I are holding each other up. We'll be ok. It was Mike's adamant request that there be no services, so please tell anyone that you talk to not to send flowers. If anyone wants to "do something," I have been suggesting that they make a contribution in his name to Prostate Cancer Research at OHSU. In doing that, they will be doing something to help themselves, their sons and grandsons as well as remember him — he would like that kind of sharing.

Take care of yourself, and enjoy this special time. I'll hope that the sun shines on your graduation. I have a feeling that Mike just might look in on you!


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