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SALT LAKE CITY — Ski biking has been around for decades, but a Salt Lake City man is pushing to make it a more popular winter sport at Utah resorts.
Jim Cameron grew up in Chicago and first rode a ski bike in 1975 at the Indianhead Mountain Resort. He moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah and decided to make Utah his home. Cameron said he’s had a long history of working in the winter sports industry and he now works for Wintersteiger and helps run the Salt Lake City distribution center for winter sports equipment.
In 2012, Cameron said he rediscovered the sport after he saw a ski bike hanging on a ski and snowboard rack in the warehouse. Ski biking replaces the tires of lowered bicycles with skis, allowing riders to steer the contraption and take advantage of its low center of gravity.
“It was like, ‘Ding!’ A light went off in my head,” Cameron said. “I was like, ‘I haven’t seen one of those in awhile. They have come a long way in 30 years.’ ”
Cameron began researching ski bikes and connected with a manufacturer in Colorado and the area representative in Utah. He said he bought a ski bike in 2012 and became hooked on the sport. Cameron started a company, Utah Ski Bikes, and now has a goal to get more Utahns to try ski biking.
“I think over the years, (ski bikes) sort of had a reputation as being a toy, more of a sled-like apparatus,” he said. “Which they really weren’t. But they never really caught on with the ski areas just because I think that’s the way they were perceived... I got exposed to it, got excited about it and made the commitment, pretty early. I’m in my 50s and I was getting kind of bored with skiing.”
In an effort to get more people interested in the sport, Cameron began offering weekend demonstrations for small groups to teach them how to ride a ski bike, which he said is fairly easy to pick up.
“The main thing I want to get across is, it’s easier than people perceive when they look at a YouTube video or see people out there,” he said. “The learning curve with this isn’t anything like skiing or snowboarding. Your center of gravity is lower. You have two little foot skis that are like little outriggers that give you two extra points of contact. (It’s) really, really easy to learn.”
Several Utah resorts allow ski biking including Brighton, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head and the Canyons. Ski bikes must include a leash or strap and a braking system to be used at the resorts. Cameron hopes Utahns will take the opportunity to give the sport a try.
“It seems like we keep re-inventing the wheel, but the common thread is the basic draw of letting gravity pull us down the mountain and putting a smile on our face,” he said.