Grass skiing began as an alternative training program for winter skiers in the warm summer months. In Germany in the 1960s, downhill snow ski racers devised an adaptation for the sport that would allow them to engage in outdoor training during the summer. From there, the sport was introduced to sporting crowds in Europe and immigrated to the eastern United States. By the 1970s, the sport had reached the San Francisco Bay Area.
The sport uses specific grass skis for the task, which have short runners with wheeled, well oiled, tank-like treads strapped to standard downhill ski boots. The alternative to skiing to occupy the summer months had just started to gain attention, when a segment of a television show entitled “That’s Incredible” depicted the sport and all who engage in it as extremists, purposely crashing and embarking on risky maneuvers. From there, the sport gained notoriety for drawing in excessive risk takers.
An article recently from the Great Falls Tribune chronicled the discovery and investment of one man to the sport, and his attempt to eliminate this negative perception.In 1979, Brian McKay discovered grass skiing as it made its way across the country. In 1983, he embarked on a trip to Australia to serve as part of the United States Grass Skiing Team. He met his future wife during the trip, and eventually made his home there. Recently, he returned home to Medford, Oregon to care for an aging parent.
Since his return, he has struggled to find grass skiing partners. With this misguided perception of risky behavior in mind, many struggle to not only understand the activity as a sport, but to have a desire to engage it. Often, when McKay approaches a perspective skier, many laugh in his face at the ridiculousness of it. However, some have proven to be committed, as McKay offers a test drive on his grass skis for those willing to have an open mind about the sport.