As astute NTAA reader Botice has pointed out, the sports section of yesterday's New York Times featured a profile of my teammate Kevin Bramble, Paralympic downhill champion, monoski designer/builder, and lover of cannabis, alcohol, and women. You can read the story here (free registration required).
The article begins with the observation, "Kevin Bramble is a madman." This is not inaccurate. The whole profile, in fact, does a pretty excellent job of deconstructing one of the most intriguing and self-contradictory people I've ever met. This is a guy who, at times, literally seems not to care whether he lives or dies, and yet seems to survive incidents no one else could; a guy who tells a story about getting banned from a particular California town for an incident involving an underaged girl, an empty wine bottle, and a video camera, and yet has told me, passionately, about his desire to meet a woman to settle down with (he's now engaged, apparently); a guy who gets more media coverage than anyone on the team except maybe Ralph and who bragged to the Times that he has "taken [my] sport to a place it had never been" and yet is easily the most down-to-earth person on the team; a guy who never trains and has atrocious technique, yet regularly wins downhill races by full seconds; a guy who wants to be a successful businessman and yet missed an appointment to meet with me so I could try his monoski and perhaps purchase one — because he was in jail. As a result, I'm one of the three current U.S. team members who doesn't ski on his equipment, but somehow I still like the guy.
There are a few facts the article doesn't get quite right. For starters, a caption implies that the accompanying photo shows Bramble building a monoski; in fact it appears to be some kind of wakeboard. And the story says that he "left" the team in 1999 because he wanted to go powder skiing instead of racing, while my impression on that trip was that he was kicked off the team for telling a staff member to go fuck himself. And Bramble himself is wrong when he dismisses the accomplishments of Bode Miller, saying "He didn’t invent the skis. He hasn’t redefined the convention”; in fact, that is pretty much exactly what Bode did at the Junior Olympics in the late 1990s when he became the first racer to have significant success using new super-sidecut skis. But the article's only egregious error is one of omission: it doesn't mention Bramble's significant "lifestyle-related" health problems, which (combined with his distaste for training) have kept him from attending any team training camps or competitions since the Paralympics. Given that there are no downhills scheduled on the disabeld race circuit this year, I'll be surprised if we see him show up to a single race this year other than the X Games sit-skiercross at Aspen in January. For all intents and purposes, Kevin Bramble seems to be retired.