Barefoot Bomber lives (dangerously)
Special to the Sun
Last week while talking to my dad on the phone, I received a call from Chuck Buckley, owner of Tahoe Longboards. Putting my dad on hold, I found a frantic Chuck saying how he needed me to film him on Old 40. I could tell the adrenaline was starting to pump through his body just thinking about it.
Before abruptly hanging up, he said, and#8220;I got a new wingsuit. Iand#8217;ll tell you more later!and#8221;
Switching lines back to my dad, I told him about the quick conversation on the other line.
and#8220;I am going to be filming next week. This guy is going to skateboard down Historic Highway 40 and#8230; Barefoot!and#8221;
I didnand#8217;t bother telling him about the wingsuit. Skateboarding on a highway was hard enough to explain. He asked if my friend was crazy.
and#8220;I donand#8217;t thing so. I will find out Wednesday, I guess.and#8221;
Later that night, a calmer Chuck called to give me the details for the day, and to give me a little history on the wingsuit. On this particular day he was making a promo commercial for Porterand#8217;s Sports and Tahoe Longboards, and four years had come and gone since he last barefooted down Old 40 on his skateboard.
and#8220;The fresh breeze is still so sweet,and#8221; Buckley said.
In 2002 Buckley made a wingsuit. Not for skydiving, but for a skateboard. He used it as a braking system to slow down. When he opened it up, it filled full of air and created resistance to gradually slow him down. The idea came from the desire to point it down Highway 40 from the top down to Donner Lake without making any turns and#8212; barefoot wearing just a pair of surf trucks.
and#8220;When I was a kid I always liked to ride my skateboard barefoot in the summer and always did everything with just a pair of shorts on,and#8221; Buckley said. and#8220;I always loved flying down hills and feelinand#8217; free.and#8221;
Buckleyand#8217;s first wingsuit was made out of an old tent that was left behind at Woodstock and#8216;94 in New York.
and#8220;My longtime friend Dave Frissyn and I have skateboarded together since we were kids back in Maryland. Twenty-five years later we are in Tahoe cutting up a tent and making air brakes,and#8221; says Buckley. and#8220;We both grew up shortboarding ramps and street, but always liked bombing hills and doing power slides and#8212; just two guys who love to skate.and#8221;
I asked him how the new wingsuit compares to his first prototype. The first one was just a concept, he said, constructed out of stuff laying around the house like tents and straps from old backpacks. The new version, Buckley said, was thought through a lot more, using buckles, straps and webbing. With the help of the Truckee Sewing Company, a new suit was born.
Buckley described the experience of using the wingsuits.
and#8220;It is more of a rush for me than scary,and#8221; he said when asked about the fright factor, and if he had experienced any malfunctions. and#8220;But one time the right hand side strap had torn, leaving me with a broken wing at 50 mph barefoot. I had only one wing to slow down with. I managed to keep cool and make some wide turns and shaved off enough speed to start power sliding and gradually pulled it together.
and#8220;It was the most scared Iand#8217;ve ever been on a skateboard. So it is very dangerous? Extremely! If you fall bareback and barefoot, you are going to feel the heat.and#8221;
So when can we see the Barefoot Bomber in action again?
and#8220;When the urge hits,and#8221; Buckley said with a grin.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.